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First thing's first, Kdot's the greatest rapper alive. Through the hype-heavy new school G-shit of "Good Kid M.A.A.d City", the politically charged 'Martin Luther King Jr meets Miles Davis at a cypher' stylings of "To Pimp A Butterfly" and the free-wheeling, string of consciousness expression of "Untitled Unmastered", the West Coast rapper has embarked on a creative period comparative to Stevie Wonder in the 70s. Not concerned with setting the bar at Olympic record heights, Kendrick follows the 'voice of a generation' vibe of "To Pimp A Butterfly" with a move straight out of the Bob Dylan playbook. Much like the folk great going electric and swapping the protest songs for personal reflections, Kendrick finds the middle ground between the hard hitting car bumpers of "GKMC" and societal rage of "TPAB" with a fourteen track examination of his place within contemporary America. Over a series of whip beating, bass heavy beats, Kendrick muses on religion, the media, whack rappers and relationships, inviting mega stars Rihanna and U2 along for the ride. Beyond the massive singles "Humble" (better than Drake's whole album) and "DNA" (FEAT. bowel emptying bass!) we get a faultless LP of diverse moods and themes, culminating in the sublime "Duckworth". Taking us back to the early 90s, Kdot explores a chance meeting between his father and TDE's Top Dawg, which could have resulted in Ducky's death, Top Dawg's prison sentence and no Kendrick. Chillingly deep yo.
Millie says: Kendrick Lamar brings us his fourth studio album. We all told you to watch this space after previous releases and well here he is. ‘Damn’ is bold and fierce, and judging by the tracklist alarmingly shouty but as Kendrick said himself it represents the loudness of the record. LOYALTY, PRIDE, FEAR; though their titular semantics are simplified to one word, the songs are incredibly layered and submersed in raw emotion. Having said this, the album is very accessible. Fragmented lyrics are drenched in energy from the heavy bass throughout, the complexity of consciousness and storytelling is absolutely mind blowing. There isn’t much justice I can do express how essential this album is, but he has done it again by releasing a rap album which is so relevant you need to sit up and listen. ‘Damn’ is a powerful and political statement, and Kendrick is dominating the hip hop world with the most significant albums of modern times.
6. Loyalty Ft. Rihanna
11. Xxx Ft. U2