Have we been duped? Are we just sheep? Is it true that what we’ve been hearing from the one known as Kendrick Lamar is only just scratching the surface? These questions and more have been burning a hole in my notebook ever since the cryptic announcement he dropped back three weeks ago. What eventually became known as “The Heart Pt. 4” was only the beginning of another onslaught from Kung-Fu Kenny. With passion coming from every energetic bone in his body (nullus) — the TDE superstar had the rap game at hello from the moment he begun bending our ears to his new sounds.
And there are new sounds. While “The Heart Pt. 4” took us through a cornucopia of colorful sounds produced by SykSense, The Alchemist, DJ Dahi and Axl Folie, his next move would be equivalent to a check made directly at those who are dominating the sound on-and-off the radio airwaves. “HUMBLE.,” which was produced by Mike WiLL Made It, took the simplistic, three cord chords that have become a staple on playlists and radio stations (see: Trap Music) and empowered the good kid from the m.A.A.d city to go off on a myriad of subjects. His cadence wasn’t the popular flow à la Migos, but he definitely shook up the game with fuego takes about women being natural and rappers letting the lean do all the talking.
The excitement for his barely 24-hours old project, DAMN., comes from the soul. It comes from the reputation that Kendrick Lamar has built as an MC in the game. Pre-ordering the project was without question because the Compton original has given us so many surprises, what’s wrong with another one? You see, if rap is a competitive sport, then Kendrick Lamar is our Russell Westbrook: a dominating, show-stopping, fueled by God talent capable of triple-doubles and creating new history in hip-hop. Has he unleashed a project that hasn’t impressed even the staunchest proponent against rap? Is he one of the few who still makes the hairs on your ears stand up on its end when new sounds arrive?
For DAMN. the answer awaits us within these 14 tracks.
As we have done with our other first-take listens before, DAMN. will be powered by gut reactions, streams of consciousness with no pausing, rewinding or editing of any kind throughout the project. Without any further ado, here is our first-take listen at Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and if you haven’t already, be sure to cop the project from iTunes here.