"Kung Fu Kenny"
On April 14th, Kendrick Lamar released his fourth project - DAMN.. After dropping an album that opened the eyes of America with To Pimp a Butterfly in 2015, Kendrick evolved even further with this new project. Although Kendrick kept a lot of the same angle in basking in black culture (with songs like "DNA.", "FEAR." and "DUCKWORTH."), DAMN. still embraces a sound of its own.
On this go around the production sounds a lot different from the sounds on TPAB and are not as instrumental. With many more looped sounds and hard-hitting bass (like "HUMBLE." embraces), DAMN. goes in a different direction and sounds a lot like Kendrick's early projects Section.80 and Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City at times. This goes because of the producers outside of the TDE camp now coming to touch the beats on Kenny's music. Outside of Sounwave (TDE/Kendrick's right-hand producer), MikeWillMadeIt, 9th Wonder and Steve Lacy from The Internet all touched the production on this album in some way. From the rattling 808s in "DNA." to the funky switch up on "DUCKWORTH.", these producers put their whole foot in this project.
Throughout DAMN. K. Dot continued his story telling ways and gave us a bit more of his story. This ultimately happened with the ending song "DUCKWORTH." where he explained the story of the CEO of Top Dawg, Anthony Tiffith, and Kenny's father known as Ducky. He explained how Top Dawg robbed the chicken restaurant that Ducky worked at in Compton decades ago, and ended up sparing his life. In this story he went on to talk about how that decision changed all three of their lives given the picture of today with Kendrick becoming one of the biggest rap names of this generation. Kendrick also continues to display his struggle between himself and society with the song "FEEL.". Similar to "u" on To Pimp a Butterfly, he went along to describe how he really feels about life right now given his famous lifestyle.
In between the deep vents and the storytelling throughout the album, Kenny reminds us why his is one of the best on top of his in-depth messages. Kung Fu Kenny gave us MAJOR cadence play throughout the whole album on top of that. Similar to classic Andre 3000 and modern day Big Sean, Kendrick gave us a variety of different sounding sixteen bar verses on DAMN.. From switching flows in "XXX." to partially singing on "LOYALTY.", Kendrick gives off a wide range of deliveries.
At this point in Kendrick's career he knows that he is in the top tier of the rap industry (arguably the best in the game). Through throwing subliminal jabs on "ELEMENT." and "HUMBLE.", he's shown that he's not afraid of any competition either. With this album he showed us that he will be here for a while, demonstrating why he deserves that title of best rapper alive. My favorite moments on the album are the songs "DNA.", "HUMBLE.", "FEEL." and "GOD.", along with the practically perfect feature of Rihanna on "LOYALTY." with the 24K Magic sample.
Watch Kendrick Lamar's interview with Zane Lowe below. Hear them talk about each track in depth and Kendrick's state of mind when making this album. Peep.