Kendrick Lamar’s new album DAMN. is exactly just that. This sociopolitical album expresses his feelings and vents his frustrations in a beautifully constructed manner. Born in Compton, California, his musical masterpiece encompasses the anger of the community but does so through a combination of raging rhythms and ungovernable desire which shows his ardent desire to change the system in which he feels so hard done by.
In many ways, DAMN. is a representation of Lamar’s dark and unsettled mind with each song showing a disparate side to his personality. This unique album is almost bipolar in nature as he asserts his greatness as a rap god whilst also mourning his death as a victim of police brutality. It’s this juxtaposition of emotion that leads DAMN. to be one of the most eccentric and special albums of our generation. The album has a central focus on what has shaped Lamar’s character and what he feels, embracing his humble beginnings but also showing how far he’s willing to go to achieve racial harmony.
‘BLOOD’ introduces us to the first of the artist’s feelings towards the society in which he lives. It has an eerie but patriotic atmosphere, almost questioning why the black race continues to put up with oppression from their white counterparts. The beat itself is slow and builds throughout, perhaps reflecting the building anger and frustration that he, like many others, feels towards their treatment in a supposedly liberal and free society. The almost robotic tone of Lamar’s voice stresses a craving for change. He questions the fairness of death with the lyrics “I was taking a walk the other day” suggesting that death and brutality is more inevitable due to his race, and thus this song can be seen as a protest towards the cheapness of life for many African Americans across the country.
In ‘ELEMENT’ he explores the struggles he and his family have endured and how it has shaped his path as a musical pioneer. The first words Kendrick preaches scream self-sacrifice – “I’m willin’ to die for this shit” alluding to him becoming a matyr for the race -and this theme of self sacrifice is prevalent throughout. It undoubtedly proves him as the most influential rapper in the game as he strives for sociopolitical change through the means of music.
‘DAMN’ is an album that will be remembered for years to come and is one that asserts his ability as one who’s able to inspire and ignite social change. He shows the rest of the world that the quest for civil rights and racial equality is far from finished thus further showing why this album, with it’s intense and fiery lyrics, will be instrumental in helping the plight for racial harmony.
This article was written by Alex Singhal