Coachella's 2017 headliner, Kendrick Lamar, released his fourth studio album.
Following suit of his lead single “Humble”and diss track “The Heart Part Four,” Lamar’s only disappointment for the album was the delayed release date.
Instead of going down his usual omniscient storytelling path, the Compton rapper left the skits in the studio and took a first-person approach. The listener gets a look at Lamar’s struggles with A-list fame and the maintenance of his morals and values.
“DAMN.” is by far Lamar’s most personal album to date.
It’s not until the seventh track where the album begins to take form and you realize Lamar’s having internal struggles.
Lamar, “searching for answers through the wax,” delves deep into his psyche to show us (and presumably himself) what it’s like to be at the top of the rap game while staying true to himself.
It’s almost like we get to look inside of Kendrick’s diary over insane beats.
Kendrick shows off his talent not only in the lyric department, but also in the track composition itself.
DAMN.’s sound varies from '90s West Coast beats to the late 2000s during the dark days of hip-hop when Soulja Boy was important and artists were experimenting with autotune and melodic beats.
Even the track arrangement shows Lamar’s genius. At first glance, it may seem like the tracks are in random order, but after listening to “Fear,” the most raw and revealing track on the album, it’s clear that Lamar is juxtaposing his pleasures and demons right before our eyes.
This album is also Lamar’s most broad and modern-sounding hip-hop project.
“Good Kid Maad City”was straight West Coast, while “To Pimp A Butterfly”had jazz and afrobeats. On “DAMN.”, Lamar jumps into rap’s more popular sound with heavy 808 usage and autotune hooks over rhythm-and-bluesy beats.
Lamar’s lack of unique beat selection and flow feels like he’s showing mainstream rappers he can do what they do while remaining true to classic elements in hip-hop and still doing numbers.
Most of “DAMN.” is a refreshing sound to Lamar’s discography, but Kung-Fu Kenny used the song “Duckworth,” to get back into his artful storytelling rap.
A perfect way to end his album, Lamar tells the comedic, yet alarming story of how an exchange of free KFC between his father and future manager, Top Dawg, led to the life he leads now.
Lamar shows the beauty of individuality on “wax” and maintains his best rapper alive title. In a class of his own, K-Dot continues to outdo himself and flourish in the hip-hop community.
Opening up and becoming vulnerable with the audience, Lamar masterfully shows growth and maturity in his fourth album and avoids becoming stagnant in his sounds like a handful of industry artist we deal with now.
Marissa Walker is a senior media arts and design major. Contact Marissa at firstname.lastname@example.org.