After waiting 2 years for a new album, he’s back, young Kung Fu Kenny. The wait is over, we now have DAMN. *hallelujah emoji*. With a methodic build up to it’s release with ‘The Heart Part 4’ and a maad visual for HUMBLE. the next couple days was lowkey a little intense once DAMN’s release date was announced. With previous albums like 2015’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ and 2012’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.d. city’, Kendrick’s line on ‘The Heart Part 4’ stands true - “Dropped one classic, came right back / ‘Nother classic right back”.
The team here at 94Five are gonna give you our initial thoughts on DAMN., keep in mind these are a ‘first glance’ type of opinion because we think it’s only fair to truly judge a whole project after giving it time to resonate and understand it.
“Listening to Kendrick Lamar’s latest body of work gave me flashbacks of the old Kendrick - memories of his ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ vibes. Giving us lyrical realness and eloquently written bars discussing hard hitting topics while still giving us hits. Having an album where a song like ‘Fear’ can still sit well against a radio perfect track like ‘Loyalty’ shows smart musicianship and a chameleon like quality that only raps Top 5 can claim. Making hits and still spitting conscious rap is not an easy combo but King Kendrick did it once again. I think we still get the artistry that ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ had with similar story like qualities on tracks like ‘Blood’ continuing his prominent voice on Black Lives and Compton, but this album feels like an easier listen. ‘DAMN.’ is something I’ll listen to for months to come getting ready, or driving in the summer, without always having to listen with the same intense attention that it felt ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ demanded. Still early days but for now I’ve definitely got ‘DAMN.’ on repeat.”
“The sudden announcement of DAMN. left me excited but unsure of what to expect. With T.P.A.B being so left-field Kendrick could’ve taken this album numerous directions. The diversity of flows and instrumentals was something that initially stood out to me. At parts, the album feels a little less cohesive than what I’m used to from Kendrick, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the individual songs. I found myself drawn towards the more soulful songs on the album. YAH., FEAR. and DUCKWORTH., had to get multiple rewinds. The more ‘Trappy’ sounding songs such as DNA. and ELEMENT. aren’t lacking neither. I know they’ll have me gassed for weeks and months to come!
With most of Kendrick’s album’s they usually take multiple solid listens before you’ve fully digested but you can still casually enjoy the soundscapes. Point being, similar to previous Kendrick projects DAMN’s intricate lyrics, multiple meanings and interpretations is something that you have to give more attention to. Kendrick’s projects never lack replay value and DAMN. is no exception. That being said, I’m looking forward to all the “That’s what he meant” moments.”
“After having ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ on repeat for the longest, I finally have a new Kendrick tape to dive into. Once HUMBLE. dropped I was in awe awaiting the release of DAMN. and off my first couple straight thru listens I can say as a biased fan that I’m impressed with Kendrick’s latest release. With soulful soundscapes and elements of Trap, I like this direction that kendrick has chosen for DAMN., it feels very reminiscent of Kendrick in his early days on ‘Section.80’ and a little of ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’. After T.P.A.B I wasn’t sure what direction sonically would be next for Kendrick, with Butterfly heavily focussing on Jazz Fusion, I didn’t think Kendrick would jump back on a Trap vibe for his next body of work. I definitely need to sit with this one for a minute, I’m eager to see everything that unfolds throughout my next listens. With ‘Section.80’ - a book, Good Kid - a movie and Butterfly - a poem, I’m excited to see the concept behind DAMN. but for now I’m loving the vibes that Kenny has bought, again.”