The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday October 15th

Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN.' is (of course) a masterpiece

I struggled figuring out how to write about Kendrick Lamar’s newest album, “DAMN.” 

He gave us a harbinger weeks ago with “The Heart Part 4,” warning us of what was to come; and despite dropping “HUMBLE.,” to provide the rap world with a glimpse of his new sound, no one was prepared. 

Releasing his third major studio album on Good Friday, Kendrick used a weekend when many focus on Christianity to share his 14-track project lamenting on the damning properties of earthly sin. 

In “DAMN.," Kendrick embraces the role of a flawed rap prophet, whose own wickedness in sin makes him as weak and fallible as all of man, but whose limitations won’t hold back his message or drive.

Confessing to his own demons, “DAMN.,” presents Kendrick’s own life of cyclical sin, rapping on his cursed DNA over styling ranging from trap to jazz. 

His lyrics tell of truth, pain and significant struggle, as the self-proclaimed “hip-hop rhyme savior” — a moniker he proudly accepts yet struggles to carry — proves himself to be mortal with a visceral and profound feeling of dread expressed throughout the album. 

Despite a few uplifting songs and harmonious melodies, Kendrick is generally pessimistic, an inevitability when contemplating the damning reality of sin. A focus on God and Christianity is on-brand for the Compton rapper, with many of his previous works showcasing such ideals and influences. However, none have had such a concentrated God-centric focus like “DAMN.” And this is by design.

Through the years, Kendrick has grown not only into arguably the best rapper of his time, but into a survivor and savior of Compton and black America, carrying the burdens of the world on his back — similar to what Christ did on Good Friday thousands of years ago. 

And just as the story of the crucifixion is still relevant today after enduring thousands of years of strife, Kendrick hopes his message lasts, too, rapping “I can’t take these feelings with me / So hopefully they disperse” on “FEAR.”

Going away from the typical depth of Kendrick’s work ... the album is dope. But, then again, it’s Kendrick Lamar we’re talking about — of course it’s dope.

No one was ready for K. Dot’s third major album, another masterpiece, because that’s just how incredible he is.

Kendrick, K. Dot, Kung Fu Kenny, Cornrow Kenny, Mr. 1-5, you name it. 

He’s a damn good rapper, and “DAMN.” is just another piece of sanctified lyricism for his fans, followers and disciples to worship.


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