Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” is considered by many to be a modern classic, cementing Lamar’s place as a giant in the hip-hop industry. Personally, I had only lightly listen to “DAMN.” after its 2017 release and could only identify a few of the “hotter” songs on the album. I knew of Lamar’s lyricism and had always assumed, based of “Humble” and “DNA,” that thematically Lamar did not fundamentally differ from main-stream rap music.
Nearly 3 years later, our school’s project on the album restructured my views on Lamar’s work. There was so much to the album that I did not fully understand – the thematic division between wickedness and weakness, the relevance of the order, the significance of the features…etc. Critics claim that Lamar pioneered “critical rap” and brought political critical hip-hop to the mainstream. I found many songs on the album to be extremely insightful and a reflection of many of the social problems faced by Black Americans today. Despite being written more than 3 years ago, Lamar’s calls to black empowerment and self determination are equally relevant todays with the re-ignition of the Black Lives Matter movement.