From the first track on Damn, it’s clear Kendrick Lamar is not going to tread lightly. On the intro track, he samples the voice of Fox News reporter, Geraldo Rivera, who criticized and misquoted Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 hit, Alright. Kendrick puts a musical spin on the words and turned it into a track of his own.
When we get to the track, DNA, we are pleased to hear a change in production from Kendrick’s last project. His 2015 project, TPAB was riddled with Jazz instrumentals and simple production on drum patterns. DNA rivals his last project entirely by itself. The Mike-Will production that transitions into a change of instrumental captures your attention, and with a close ear for lyrics, you’d be surprised how much Kendrick has grown.
Element, the fourth track on the project, is a song of Kendrick asserting his dominance in rap history and daring other rappers to question his claims. With James Blake on the production, Kendrick makes sure you understand that he has both feet fully in the door. Some believe this song is a response to those who criticized Kendrick for collaborating with several Pop artists throughout 2016. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a song to remember.
With the track Pride, Kendrick dives into his recognition of his role in music history. The vocal pitch changes can be seen as rivaling thoughts and the underlining contrast of his ideals and his actions. It’s quite entertaining to see that Kendrick broadens this ideology, as he makes his instrumental on Pride to sound very humble, and his next track, ironically named Humble, to sound very energetic.
It’s obvious that this album had a certain spirituality when looking at the track titles. There’s a certain mindset Kendrick was in when constructing these songs, as he’s reflecting on his life and certain aspects of it. This is a story of Kendrick overcoming his own wickedness. Playing the album from Blood to Duckworth, Kendrick is displaying a downward spiral to his weakness, his family. Kendrick addresses many moments in his life and his family throughout the project, something he hasn’t done much of since Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.
Growth is something Kendrick does wonderfully. He has always brought in new ideas and always rises above his last project. Kendrick is an artist that gives you the art and politely asks you to review it. I imagine Kendrick as being a painter that never receives credit for his work. He is very humble in his understanding of who he is and his talent, which makes it all the better.