Kendrick Lamar: 'DAMN.' / Album Review


In the lead up to the release of our first ever printed magazine, the committee members at The MNGR have been discussing their favourite albums of 2017. Check out what our Vice President, Louis Andersen-Risager had to say about Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. below.

When Kendrick Lamar’s highly anticipated fourth full-length studio album, DAMN., dropped on 14th of April, he showed why he is considered to be one of the best rappers right now.

While good kid, m.A.A.d City, with K-Dot leading the show, moved around in the Compton ghetto, showcasing how life is growing up in the infamous L.A. ghetto, Cornrow Kenny lead the way on To Pimp A Butterfly focusing on more external and general societal issues, Kung-Fu Kenny, the new moniker on DAMN., circles around the internal battle with himself and life as a superstar rapper.

He is torn between the feeling of being on top of the rap game, while, at the same time, feeling abandoned by God for the very same reasons. Furthermore, the divine references on the album come both implicit and explicit. From the very explicit from the track titled ‘God’, to the lyrics on ‘DNA’: “I was born like this (…) / immaculate conception / I transform like this, perform like this / was Yeshua’s new weapon”. The very next track, ‘YAH’, seems like an almost complete opposite to ‘DNA’. On ‘YAH’, Kendrick seems confused, sluggish and lethargic and is nothing near to the saviour he set out to be on ‘DNA’. This dichotomy continuous through the album, with contradicting song titles: ‘PRIDE’ versus ‘HUMBLE’ and ‘LUST’ versus ‘LOVE’.

Throughout DAMN., Kendrick acts like a chameleon, changing his style and flow with every song, which supports the almost schizophrenic search for a foothold through the album. However, this search for a foothold serves as a recurring theme throughout, making the album stand out as a complete work of art.

Almost a year after the release of DAMN., I still find myself discovering new sides to the songs. The tale of King Kendrick manoeuvring through his own existence, with everything that comes with it, keeps making you want to come back. Besides the thematic values to the album, the quality of the rhymes itself are way above standard – which by the way has always been a trademark of King Kendrick. On DAMN., Kendrick proves he can master several different styles of rapping and draws in new fans, while not neglecting and alienating old fans. While Kendrick could be considered the saviour of hip-hop, he can’t save himself. This is the very contrast that makes DAMN. a contemporary masterpiece.

Written by Louis Andersen-Risager