We've got some complicated feelings about K-Dot's latest.Top Dawg / Aftermath / Interscope, 2017
8.8 / 10
As the member of the Earbuddy crew that has been singing the man’s praises the longest, I must stress that my love for Kendrick Lamar is not unconditional. I love the man’s work because the man’s work has been exceptional. I struggle to think of any hip-hop artist riding a longer and hotter hot streak besides arguably Danny Brown. Lamar’s past two full-length albums were my picks for the best albums of their respective years. It’s not because I’m partial to any aspect of Lamar outside of his music. Rather, it’s because good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp a Butterfly were that damn good. Lamar will lose a fan in me when he stops putting out great music.
So, then, DAMN. is his worst full-length since Section 80. It’s fourteen tracks that run under an hour in which Lamar ruminates on stuff and other things. He brings in Rihanna to do nothing and U2 to do an outro on a song. He’s concerned about his genre and his influence on the genre and goodness, wasn’t this what half of Butterfly was about? It feels like Kung Fu Kenny(…) has hit a slump. It wouldn’t surprise me if his next record were a Mars Volta album in disguise, if only to ensure a drastic change-up.
DAMN. has to succeed on the merits of its backing beats and Kendrick Lamar doing what he can in his relative creative slump, which would be a hefty uphill climb on any project not helmed by one of the best artists working in music today. Lamar has yet to make a sonically inconsistent album, or one whose worst beat is worst than the best work the majority of his mainstream peers get to ride. He’s also yet to make an album with a low word count and a lack of sophisticated terminology. If Kendrick Lamar on autopilot can make an album as involving and charming as DAMN., I anticipate being a fan of his for a very long time.