Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
5d ago
Me listening to LOVE. & GOD. in 2019:

Yeah...(*sips tea*), hopefully I don't get shit on too much cause of this. (i'm bout to go on a long rant)

Just two years ago, I had this at a 9/10 and considered it one of the best albums of the decade. Over the course of two years, my relationship with DAMN. has gone on a downward spiral and that's why I'm here reviewing this today.

The truth is, out of all the albums I've ever heard and rated on this site, DAMN. remains as the only album ever that I had forced myself to enjoy and artificially bump up my rating for. Yes, I openly admit it! The ratings I had previously given DAMN. (90,83,71,67) were fake as fuck! I did it to try and fit in. I saw all the praise the album kept getting from critics and fans. People considered it an "instant classic", a "one-of-a-kind" album, a "masterpiece". I didn't want to feel left out and carry a terrible reputation everywhere I go on the web for hating on DAMN.

Now, you might think that all of this sounds pretty ridiculous! I've already given plenty of unpopular scores on the site already without any hesitation (e.g. Art Angles, Titanic Rising). Why should I be worried about what others think about my opinion on DAMN? Well, to me, DAMN is not like any other album I've rated or listened to. What this album and Kendrick Lamar has represented to me in the past is a lot more personal.

His last album, To Pimp A Butterfly was an album that meant a lot to me. Without me stumbling upon it cause of widespread critical acclaim and accidental searching on the internet, chances are I wouldn't be on this site. I wouldn't have 1,900+ ratings. I wouldn't be making casual reviews as a casual music listener. I wouldn't have discovered all the music I listen to today. I would have continued to bash hip hop/rap as an "evil" genre. So, Kendrick Lamar is truly an important figure for me in my musical journey. When I first heard DAMN. and disliked it, I thought I was wrong to believe that Kendrick Lamar made a bad album...

...And so all of this has brought me here today to properly review DAMN. in 2019. I've heard people that suggested this album was "deep" and required a lot more time to digest and really get the full picture. However, after trying to please people for two years with my artificial score of DAMN., I must come out to say that DAMN. is a flavorless effort by Kendrick Lamar that fails miserably as a concept and conscious hip hop album.

My god, this thing is such a mess in many MANY ways to me! First of all, I find it astonishingly hard to believe that all of these songs can be put together under one cohesive piece as a conscious hip hop album. I just can't. In albums like TPAB, GKMC and Section 80, there were moments that helped tie the entire album together track by track. In addition, most of the songs on those albums were cohesive and logical in terms of sonic direction. With DAMN., I find myself bewildered that songs like PRIDE. and HUMBLE. are next to each other.

In terms of lyrical content, I think Kendrick Lamar totally underwhelms with DAMN. With previous Kendrick Lamar albums, I could tell that all the tracks were progressing conceptually and that there would be an end point to the album. With DAMN., I don't get that feeling at all. Instead, it's just a constant mosh-pit of half-baked themes and lyrical concepts that might've actually had some substance if they were further developed into something more. Some songs also carry a lot more weight lyrically than others. For example, FEEL. is a very thought-provoking track that exposes a very vulnerable side of Kendrick. Meanwhile, HUMBLE...what the fuck is HUMBLE? When Kendrick tries to display some lyrical one-liners (e.g. on ELEMENT. or FEAR.), I feel empty inside. There's really not a lot of punch and weight to what Kendrick is saying on most of the album. As a result, most of it just seems meaningless. Kendrick also doesn't deliver his lyrical content in a unique and stylistically interesting way. It all feels so bland and faint.

Instead of being thought-provoking, DAMN.'s lyrics are pandering, incohesive and isolated.

I haven't even gotten to the delivery and Kendrick's side of this project. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, I've never heard Kendrick this obnoxious, annoying and bored-to-death before! I hate to say this, but he ruins the majority of this album! On bangers like DNA. and HUMBLE., his flow just seems kinda tacky, uneventful and are uninteresting on its own. Meanwhile, tracks like YAH., PRIDE. he sounds depressingly boring and one-note.

(Now, this is where I distance my opinion a bit more. Yes, I do in fact agree that DAMN. is an album that a listener can interpret in so many different ways. In this case, the fact that Kendrick sounds so depressed is likely intentional to this album's direction and concept. However, as someone who thinks that DAMN. doesn't deliver anything of substance lyrically and conceptually in a cohesive way, it just doesn't seem convincing or worthy of attention.)

Then, Kendrick's singing, rapping and mumbling really takes a nose-dive on tracks like LOYALTY., LOVE., and GOD. LOYALTY. has a few tolerable moments sonically, but LOVE. is just ear-piercing! Meanwhile, GOD. actually might be a contender for my least fav song of all time! I'm not kidding either, that song gives me a bad headache!

I also feel like DAMN. is actively trying to waste my time. As a result, it's a really frustrating listen! For example, FEAR. is literally only 7 minutes long cause of Kendrick's stupid reversed vocals (oh look at me, I'm so fucking unique!), him imitating his mother by saying "I beat yo ass" 69 times, the annoying "IM HIGH NOW" hook, instrumental breaks and the boring monologues at the beginning and end that don't add to the overall DAMN. experience. On LUST., Kendrick annoyingly repeats and interrupts himself and lets the song stretch to 5 minutes. It's pretty unfortunate cause these two are some of the best songs lyrically and sonically! There's just plenty of moments where I wish Kendrick could say something with more weight to it while also not sounding like a dying chipmunk.

Now, I've spent a really long time shitting on DAMN., but I do think it has its delicate little moments. When it comes to the production, it's pretty stellar when you compare it to everything else. It's still his least consistent and worst-produced album and there are moments where even the production falls short of its potential. For example, on tracks like DNA., the production isn't all that gratifying until the beat switchup. Meanwhile, on XXX., part of me feels like the song was mixed really badly, cause the siren sounds seem so misplaced and ugly. However, the production on LUST., DUCKWORTH. and PRIDE. are by far the most intriguing moments on the album. I absolutely adore the sample and beauty of DUCKWORTH. On PRIDE., I really enjoy the toned-down, soluful, but rough aesthetic of the track. It's pretty unique. Then, on LUST., the production is chillingly haunting, warped, soul-crushing and it's by far my favorite thing about DAMN.

I think something that was critically missing on this album was Kendrick's storytelling. Now, I understand that Kendrick might have wanted to take a different approach, but Kendrick truly thrived cause of his storytelling ever since Section 80. When it comes down to Kendrick's lyrical output, this is usually what I find most interesting. And it's no surprise that DUCKWORTH. is one of my favorites off of DAMN. I really enjoyed hearing Kendrick talk about his father and Top Dawg's and what it all means for him. Definitely a pretty captivating moment.

You know what ruins it? Aside from the cheesy "oh, let's reverse it to the first song so you can play this album all over again", we have Kid Capri. Fucking Kid Capri, "YALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENS ON EARTH STAYS ON EARTH." You don't understand just how much I hate this dude on the album! Apart from wanting him to just shut the fuck up, the more he appears on the album, the more I want to slice his annoying little ass in half with a long, sharp katana! He's only there for a few seconds, but that's still a few seconds too much!

So, I think it's fair to say that I disliked DAMN. In all honesty, this was such a hard album to sit through in 2019 and I wanted to quit listening to it many many times! There were definitely some little hidden gem moments on the album, but that's clearly not enough for me to tolerate a CONSCIOUS HIP HOP record that literally intended the songs to be heard as part of an album experience! I can't even say that I'm disappointed...I'm just overall shocked!

Perhaps I may have been a little too harsh on DAMN., but I also think I'm a little too gentle on it. For an album that had me frustrated, bored, empty-minded and regretful for even listening to it, this could've been lower. However, I did appreciate some individual songs and points on the album.

But still, as an overall album experience and how enjoyable it was, there's no way I can give DAMN. higher than...a strong 3. Sorry.

DAMN. Ranked
13. GOD. (-1/10) (yes, a negative 1 outta 10)
12. LOVE. (1/10)
11. LOYALTY. (3/10)
10. HUMBLE. (3/10)
9. YAH. (3/10)
8. ELEMENT. (4/10)
7. XXX. (4/10)
6. FEAR. (5/10)
5. PRIDE. (5/10)
4. LUST. (6/10)
3. DNA. (6/10)
2. DUCKWORTH. (8/10)
1. FEEL. (8/10)

Final Verdict: OOF.
5d ago
Appreciate the honesty (sips tea, pinky out) but disagree.
5d ago
Agree to disagree! :)
5d ago
Oh, for sure! I just wanted to sound like a pretentious ass with my pinky finger. At worst, you just made me want to go listen to it again to make sure you didn't alter my perception of the record lol
5d ago
It's official: Sybyr > Kendrick Lamar
5d ago
I appreciate your honesty and candor in unpacking why you dislike this album so much.
5d ago
It's official: Quadeca > Kendrick Lamar
5d ago
@Cosmilk ouch, that one hurt me
4d ago
@Cosmilk ouch, that one hurt me so much I had to switch to my singles account
4d ago
i haven’t listened to this album since the months following it’s release.
4d ago
Dude your story with TPAB is super similar to mine. In 2015 I randomly googled "best album of the decade" and found that album. Then found this site and fantano and I dove in. Without that album I may not be a big music guy at all.
2d ago
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