Despite the seven extra days, whether or not I have my sh*t together, is still up in the air but what’s certain is the release of Kendrick’s new LP DAMN. It is expected to move a solid 450k copies in the first week.
Here at HHNM we usually like to give new releases ample time to process before writing in depth reviews for them and we’ll do that for ‘DAMN’ as well, but in honor of the title we, figured we’d try something a little different. This is not a true “first impressions” summary as we’ve given the record around 8 or 9 full spins by now, but it’s still a premature review compared to what we would normally do for a detailed album review.
Here are the moments on Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. that made us go
- The gun shot on ‘BLOOD.’ Almost jumped out of my The album is about to begin. Did Kendrick die? Is this another concept album?
- The opening “I Got, I Got, I Got” of ‘DNA.’ and its subsequent beat drop that follows provided courtesy of MikeWiLL Made It.
- ‘DNA.’s’ BEAT SWITCH!!! I thought the beat was going hard before, but with one minute left all hell breaks loose.
- Kendrick rapping like somebody has a gun to his head and they’re pulling the trigger unless he makes them say “damn” during the last minute of ‘DNA’. Mission Accomplished.
- MikeWiLL and K. Dot’s surprisingly incredible chemistry.
- Kid Capri screaming out “Kung Fu Kenny” to open ‘YAH.’.Mark that as things we weren’t expecting on this album.
- The melodic tip of ‘YAH.’ This was missing on TPAB.
- How the ‘YAH.’ Hook creeps up on you after multiple listens.
- “B*tch all my grandmas dead, so ain’t nobody prayin for me I’m on your head, ayy”. Yeah ‘ELEMENT.” is a problem. Kendrick is in kill mode on this track.
- The imagery of Kendrick trying to slap someone and “make it look sexy” on ‘ELEMENT.’
- Kendrick borrowing the Lil Uzi Vert “ayy” flow in verse 2 of ‘ELEMENT.’
- On ‘ELEMENT.’ When he says “Most of y’all throw rocks and try to hide your hand, just say his name and I promise that you’ll see candyman”. Jay Electronica shots after his comments from last year?
- Again on ‘ELEMENT.’: “Last LP I tried to liftthe black artists, but it’s a difference between black artists and wack artists”. This is full of quotables. Kendrick seems more combative this time around.
- Starting almost every line of ‘FEEL.’ with feel/fill and impressing me lyrically more than any rapper has this year.
- ‘FEEL.’ being Kendrick’s version of Jadakiss’ ‘Why?’, but instead of asking questions he’s telling us how he feels.
- Kendrick going from “And somebody tell Rihanna too, I need that vagina too” a couple years ago to trading bars with her on ‘LOYALTY’.
- ‘LOYALTY.’ having through the roof hit potential but not sounding like a sell out.
- DJ Dahi having dope vocals on ‘LOYALTY.’ Never heard him rap on one of his beats.
- The fact that Kendrick and Riri have a song called ‘LOYALTY.’ With both of their histories with Drake
- STEVE LACY’S INTRO AND HOOK ON ‘PRIDE.’!
- The production on ‘PRIDE.’ Gonna need more info on this Bekon producer. Production is immaculate.
- Hearing ‘HUMBLE.’ in a whole new context as a response to ‘PRIDE.’
- The Outkast vibes on ‘LUST.’ Could have slipped this on ‘THE LOVE BELOW’ tracklist and no one would have noticed.
- How the ‘LUST.’ beat evolves as the song progresses. It damn near has a life of its own.
- Kendrick making one of the year’s best love songs on ‘LOVE.’
- ZACARI’S HOOK ON LOVE! Song could easily take off on Urban radio. Might get killed for this, but his vocals almost sound like Bieber here.
- U2 actually sounding amazing on ‘XXX’. I know we were all worried about how this collab would turn out. No this isn’t stadium rock or a cheap attempt at a crossover hit. In fact it may just be the hardest song on the album. I wouldn’t even mind if my iPhone came pre-loaded with this song on it.
- When the sirens kick in on ‘XXX.’ and Kendrick starts spazzing.
- When he proclaims on ‘XXX.’ that “if somebody kill my son, that mean somebody getting killed.” This may be a contender for verse of the year.
- The second beat switch on ‘XXX.’!! U2 sounds great again on the third beat.
- THE 10 SECOND BEAT FROM ‘THE HEART PT. 4’ IS IN FULL FORM HERE! Shout out to Alchemist for the ‘FEAR.’ beat.
- Hearing all of the things Kendrick got his a*s beatenfor as a kid on ‘FEAR.’
- Every verse of ‘FEAR.’….BARS!
- Kendrick’s singing on ‘GOD’. This doesn’t really sound like any Kendrick song we’ve heard before. In a good way.
- The Intro to ‘DUCKWORTH.’
- The first beat on ‘DUCKWORTH.’
- The beat switch on ‘DUCKWORTH.’
- The lyrics on ‘DUCKWORTH.’
- When you hear the conclusion to the story on ‘DUCKWORTH.’
- Everything about ‘DUCKWORTH.’
- I wasn’t expecting the gunshot on ‘BLOOD.’ but the part that stood out to me was the clip at the end. It’s 2017 and to hear people still getting offended by Hip-Hop lines warms my heart.
- ‘DNA’ had me with the stank face the entire song. Mike Will Made-It fully makes up for Ransom 2 for this beat and how hard it hits in the speakers.
- I love that we’re getting to see multiple personas of Kendrick through his albums. NEW KUNG-FU KENNY! God bless, Kid Capri for kicking off ‘YAH.’ The Fox News bars are on point, keep gunning at those right wing nuts K-Dot.
- I relate heavily to “ELEMENT.” when Kendrick drops the line about all his grandmas being dead. This beat is great, it’s sounding so far like he took the best elements of good kid and TPAB and blended them together. Oh you wanna rap like Juvenile, ha? You wanna bring up Candyman, ha?
- I know how Rihanna sounds with Drake but to see her jump sides and do a track with Kendrick was intriguing. This beat knocks and Rihanna is in her pocket because of it.
- The beat for ‘PRIDE.’ is funky. Very folk feeling, a pleasant switch from how much the bass has been knocking in my headphones. I’ve listened to this album on a Bluetooth speaker, my car’s audio system, and now some Beats and the production quality has been fantastic. Kendrick must have made MixedByAli kick everyone out of the studio for this one.
- ‘HUMBLE.’ has that pure West Coast feeling to it, probably the song I’ll use to introduce people to Kendrick for the first time on this album. I’m still shocked at the “nobody’s praying for me” theme being carried throughout the album. To me it shows Kendrick’s worried about himself and his path.
- Here’s a thought I’ve come to at ‘LUST.’: does this album play into two different themes? Like if you’re playing it backwards it gives you one message but play it like it’s intended and you get another message? Looking at the tracklist backwards also sparked this idea. If this is the case, we’ll have a lot to digest before the actual review.
- This kid Zacari reminds me a little bit of Weeknd when he first appeared. The hook is full pop and I never thought Kendrick would make a song like this. A lot of the album feels like he’s somewhat going for the crossover appeal and this will be a song that should hit Top 40 radio before long.
- Remember when Apple forced a U2 album onto our iPhones? At first I thought they somehow snuck onto Kung-Fu Kenny’s album. I can’t tell you a U2 song I remember and thought this was going to be forced at first. Boy, was I wrong! This sounds really good.
- ‘FEAR.’ is the best song on the album to me. Kendrick gives us a song like this almost every project where he spits a verse from various perspectives. The last verse blew me away because it’s too relatable. While I’m not that successful, I have that fear of buying stuff and winding up back where I started after college. This track has soul from front to back.
- YES, I AM HERE FOR THIS BEAT ON ‘DUCKWORTH.’ Sounds like Kendrick warped to the 1950s with Marty McFly and hopped on the stage as he was shredding the guitar solo. This story he’s telling about Top is phenomenal. I feel like I’m seeing it in my head and I love this type of storytelling in Hip-Hop.
– Joe Coad
There you have it: Our knee jerk reactions to Kendrick Lamar’s new LP. As we mentioned earlier, we’ll be back with more formal analysis in the future, but for now we just wanted to react simply as fans. Albums of this magnitude are an event and in the streaming age where albums don’t leak like they used to, it’s almost a big listening party when albums finally do come out everywhere at once.
Based on what we’ve heard so far, Kendrick has crafted an album that is a combination of all of his past work but with new sounds, perspective and flows. The album is more Section.80 than it is TPAB but there’s also some GKMC sprinkled as well. This feels like the tightest, most compact Kendrick effort to date upon early evaluation, but time will tell if that rings true in the future. What this album proves is that there is room for so many artists with different styles to flourish in today’s music climate and Kendrick brings his own to the table and listeners couldn’t thank him enough.