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Kendrick Lamar’s fans left feeling like “DAMN.” after album release

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Kendrick Lamar pulls us deep into the complexities of his troubled mind and raging soul as he unravels his thoughts in his latest album, “DAMN.”

“DAMN.” is blazing aux cords everywhere after its release on April 14. You won’t feel the need to skip a single track as Lamar gets your head bobbing and heart thudding throughout the entire 55 minutes. In fact, all 14 tracks in “DAMN.” landed on Billboard’s Hot 100 List, making him the fifth artist to secure that many hits on the charts simultaneously.

Lamar’s 14-track album contributes to the political hip-hop revival trend, but he also delves into the essence of his own identity, all of which creates an invigorating tour de force album that establishes Lamar as one the most paramount hip-hop artists in America today.

“DAMN.” is not a genre defying, experimental album unlike his shorter, eight-track 2016 project, “untitled unmastered.” Lamar sticks to the contemporary hip-hop soundscape with highly textured music and condensed, fierce lyrics. His use of repetition, a new asset to his distinctive style, slices through lyric-heavy verses. Lamar’s boyish, nasal voice fluctuates from a seamless flow in “LOVE.,” to a jabbing, dagger-sharp flurry in “XXX.”

In “DAMN.,” the 29-year-old socially-aware artist continues the narrative of the strife black people face in modern America from where he left off in his well-renowned 2015 release, “To Pimp A Butterfly.” Additionally, Lamar explores his conscience as an artist that has launched into stardom over the past few years.

True to hip-hop tradition, Lamar doesn’t shy from flexing his wealth, influence and success, but he also explores the dichotomy of good and evil that coexists within himself in tracks like “DNA.” and “LOYALTY.” In the latter, he raps: “I’m a savage, I’m [an] asshole, I’m a king.” Part of what makes Lamar’s newest work so admirable is that he never fails to acknowledge his imperfections and weaknesses, even if it’s difficult to be humble in a place of incredible stardom.

Lamar is often credited for reviving conscious rap, which was a prominent theme in hip-hop in the 90s. Artists like Yasiin Bey, M.I.A., Joey Bada$$, and J. Cole address today’s pressing social issues: police brutality against black people, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the struggles of minorities in impoverished communities.

In “PRIDE.,” he spits: “Race barriers make inferior of you and I/See, in a perfect world, I’ll choose faith over riches/I’ll choose work over bitches, I’ll make schools out of prison/I’ll take all the religions and put ’em all in one service.” He speaks of uniting people and the problems of systematic racism. But at the same time, he recognizes that he succumbs to the temptations of a glamorous lifestyle, which circles back to his self-reflective theme.

This contemplative album is Lamar’s least collaborative effort with the only features being Rihanna, U2, and Zacari. This solo approach is appropriate because his lyrics are largely self-reflective. Many hip-hop fans’ consensus determine that albums riddled with features may appear desperate and undignified, so this album’s selective features list upholds Lamar’s reputation as a noble-minded artist who never needs to clamor about for recognition.

Part of what makes “DAMN.” so masterful is that each track is equally propulsive, forcing us to reflect upon our character and examine the ill-conditioned society we are in.

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Kendrick Lamar’s fans left feeling like “DAMN.” after album release