Kendrick Lamar DAMN.
Ladies and Gentlemen the king has returned, King Kendrick aka Kung Fu Kenny aka Cornrow Kenny aka Kenny Duckworth, whatever you call him he’s back and he once again is unrivaled making music of this quality on the scale that he does. Throughout the course of his career, Kendrick has chipped away at the mold of what a rapper can do and think and accomplish. Now in a fuck-bitches-get-money culture of hip hop ruling the radio Kendrick dares to be different and take chances, not just in his lyrics but in the musical styles he explores. Following the opening track where he gets shot trying to help a blind woman, Kendrick takes on Fox News, cops, and the government, low hanging fruit for rappers yet he does it better than anyone, and he examines what’s in his DNA stating, “Shit I been through probly offend you.” Most importantly Geraldo Rivera, who responded by saying Drake is better) Throughout this album you can find so many reasons that Kendrick is THE best rapper, not only is his writing profound, thought-provoking, exciting, but his physical capacity to deliver rhymes is truly staggering. The biggest thing that set him apart on this album is that he is, “HUMBLE.” While he partakes in braggadocio throughout (how could you not being him) this album is largely an examination of himself, with several confessions that he if flawed, which is the sort of thing you don’t hear much of in rap. On “FEEL” he explores a range of emotions and offers criticism of himself and the world around him, on “XXX” he examines the contradictory nature of wanting to stop black on black violence, yet counsels his friend to kill the man who killed his son. Not only does he depict the complexities of humanity, but he obviously contemplates the extremely complicated life of a black man in 2017. This complexities are mirrored in the two sided elemental song titles, “DNA” & “BLOOD”, “PRIDE” & “HUMBLE”, “LUST” & “LOVE,” showing that there are different sides and facets to all situations. Kendrick perfectly encapsulates the atrocities that black Americans endure, and offers a comforting and guiding voice for all of us, while admitting that he’s not perfect himself, “In a perfect world I’d be perfect, world.” In the past Kendrick has gotten stupid criticism for being too serious, but I feel like he still brings the party on tracks like, “LOYALTY” “HUMBLE” and “GOD,” “ELEMENT” is such a classic confidence boosting rap track, “Pull up, hop out, air out, made it look sexy.” Yet for fans of intellectual rap, the whole album is dense with philosophical pondering, astute wordplay, and cultural significance. Beside all that is sounds fucking amazing working with an all-star lineup of producers including Mike Will Made It, James Blake, and many more, as well as collaborators like Anna Wise and The Internet’s Steve Lacy, not to mention the big budget features of Rihanna and U2. I’ll end my review the same way the album ends, with the most amazing story told in recent rap history. Kendrick chronicles the youth of the perviously mysterious Anthony “Top Dog” Tiffith, C.E.O. of Top Dawg Entertainment. He tells Anthony’s plans to rob a KFC and shoot the cashier, Ducky, Kendrick’s dad, who gave Anthony free chicken and biscuits, resulting in him letting Ducky live. Years later Ducky’s son was signed to the label of the man who almost killed his dad. Kendrick blurs the lines, allowing pop and indie-rock to bleed into hip hop, and further secures his spot on the hip hop storyteller throne.