'DAMN.' Is A Wake Up Call To Society
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'DAMN.' Is A Wake Up Call To Society

DAMN reaches into people's human nature and makes listeners think about their inner self.

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'DAMN.' Is A Wake Up Call To Society
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DAMN. is right, Kendrick. After listening to Kendrick Lamar's new album for about a week or two, I have essentially lived with the piece of work. I feel I have formed a fuller and clearer idea of what he is conveying and wants us, as his listeners, to know and understand. Kendrick Lamar has found a way to make express himself even better than he has in his other albums. This is not to say they are not great, but after creating the works of "To Pimp a Butterfly" and "Untitled, Unmastered," which have also been very strong expressions of Kendrick's frustrations with society, social media, the school system, and gang violence, Kendrick has been able to reach new levels of greatness.

The difference with this album is that not only is Kendrick angry about all of these things, he is coming to a level of almost having a mental breakdown and depression. K Dot is reaching higher and higher levels of anxiety and fear from what he is experiencing and seeing in the world in its current state. This is portrayed greatly on tracks like YAH. and FEAR. However, he is not allowing these things stop him from expressing himself through his very poetic style of music. One can truly feel the pain and agony in his words on tracks like FEAR.

This album is very much more than one can take at face value. A very central and core theme that Kendrick depicts is this duality of human nature. The duality comes in many forms, mainly aggression vs. passivity, pessimistic vs. optimistic, etc. There are several outlets of feelings expressed throughout the album that go hand in hand, track by track, through which Kung Fu Kenny, which seems to be a new alias of his, shows one can approach something. This album also puts into question the complexities of human nature. It is introspective to the point that it even had me questioning what I really care about. You can take this review as a listening guide of sorts, that points to the central themes of each pair of songs.




BLOOD. (INTRO)

An introduction that does not tell us too much about what is going to happen in the album, but makes sense once one reaches the end of the album. Pay close attention to the repeated lines that occur throughout the album and in each pairs/collections of songs.

DNA./YAH. (AGGRESSION vs. CONTROL)

This pair of songs showcase the two types of way Kendrick feels he could respond to the attack that FOX news had regarding his iconic lines about police brutality. "... and we hate po-po; Wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho'". Comments regarding this line has caused Kendrick to respond with both pridefulness, on DNA.

DNA showcases the sort of bravado like, yes, we are exactly what you think we are FOX news, and we showcase greatness, and I am allowed to talk about all these scenarios regarding gang violence and drug dealing because I have fully experienced this for myself, and nobody can tell me otherwise, and the fact that I have survived this shows that I am a strong soldier and you will never understand this heritage.

YAH. displays to us a completely opposite style, but explains the same scenario. Kendrick shows us in his tone, lyricism, and anxieties, and paranoia regarding his actions. However, Kendrick is still true to himself, he is just able to express this in a more controlled, calculated, premeditated manner.

ELEMENT./FEEL. (ORIGIN/REAL vs. LONELINESS/DEPRESSION)

These two tracks both showcase the feeling that Kendrick harps upon, that "nobody prays for Kendrick", while everyone expects so much from him. ELEMENT. embraces that idea, and wishes to again, with great pride and swagger, that he has worked hard to get to where is at, and he will never want to go back to the old lifestyle of being poor and having to struggle.

An underlying theme in both tracks that Kendrick feels is the sense of fame and wanting to escape this in the same way he is conspiring that Tupac had faked his death and went to Cuba. FEEL. highly showcases this through that feel of paranoia that Kendrick hates the world and feels the apocalypse is coming, which is what he believes 'Pac felt.

Kendrick feels great loneliness in our current world and society, in summary, but is expressing both the sadness and strength in this case. "I feel like I'm boxin' demons, monsters, false prophets, schemin' sponsors, industry promises". These issues, among many others, is leading to Kendrick's loneliness and paranoia about everybody around him.

LOYALTY./PRIDE./HUMBLE. (PESSIMISM vs OPTIMISM)

LOYALTY expresses the great feeling of what or who are we loyal to in this world? Is it money, fame, drink, weed, friends, family, God, or even oneself? That is a question for the listener to answer.

PRIDE goes into the idea that Kendrick has about not putting his faith and trust into society and the people in our world because the only thing that he has seen is disappointment. "In a perfect world, I would be perfect, world" This line shows that if the world was all that we wished it was, he would be the best person he can be, but in knowing that the world is not all that it is cracked up to be, people have to give less fucks and do what they need to do to survive and progress.

HUMBLE does not need any more explication since it has been out for so long, but it is essentially the polar opposite of PRIDE and says that we should be HUMBLE in what we do, but Kung Fu Kenny has expressed this with such bravado, once again, and wishes to put other rappers he feels are nowhere close to his level in their place.

LUST. /LOVE. (FAKE vs. REAL)

LUST, overall, questions why one does anything, continually expressing the idea of waking up in the morning, "thinkin' bout money", therefore, everything done afterwards in life, do we really love it, or are we doing it out of the lust, or just for the sake of addiction, or what is it? The tone in Kendrick's voice also greatly expresses this droning nature of humanity, of a cycle or pattern that we live in.

The biggest, most important theme is the way we, as a society, Kendrick feels have reacted to the 2016 U.S. Election. People all over have expressed great concern, fear, and pain. People have indeed decided to protest, but this had not lasted forever. He is claiming that when it comes to a certain point, we return back to our regular, bland lives and patterns because we might not even actually care if it does not direct our everyday life. This song made me really question, do people really even care?

LOVE wishes to turn around this idea that lust projects onto us and wants to express this realness of friendship and asks, if I didn't fulfill what you wished or made a mistake, would you still love me? This is the song where Kendrick wants but most real us to be optimistic and just appreciate who we are around, and the little things that come with love.

XXX./FEAR./GOD. (AMERICA'S REALITY vs. FAITH & GOD)

XXX. and FEAR. both tell us the same story regarding issues with America. XXX. greatly portrays the issues that Kendrick has with how fake, and truly oppressive, controlling, and counterfeit America really is to almost all people of color and those who are not "from" America. Both XXX. and FEAR. are stories about how true and oppressive gang culture is to African American youth and how promising it seems to be. XXX tells us the story from the scenario of the African American young man and how appealing it is to them to join the culture, because it looks to be the only way to survive, and get out of such an impoverished life.

FEAR. tells the story of from the worried, stressed out, and concerned mother. FEAR, in my opinion, is the most depressing song on the album. The mother of said son from before is trying to instill this idea of FEAR in her son because he feels very much so invincible in his youth. One line that I thought was very intellectual and witty of Kendrick was the line saying, "I beat yo ass if you tell the social workers he live here".

This line is referring to the boyfriend of this mother, who now lives with them at the house since this hypothetical son's father had left them. The reason the boyfriend has to be kept a secret is because in our current governmental system, single mothers are not allowed to receive certain levels of welfare if they are known to have another man in the household. This is a real piece of oppression that the U.S. welfare program has implemented in order to give the least amount of welfare possible to underprivileged families such as single mothers.

I could write on and on about these two songs, XXX and FEAR, because they are, again, in my opinion, my two favorite songs because of how eye-opening, introspective, expressive these songs are. They show a true depiction of what it is like to live in America as an impoverished African American in our great "America". I would highly recommend listening to these songs a few times and understanding them at a greater level.

GOD is a track that I read as a sort of fuck you to the previous two. Kendrick explains that he has lived through all of these struggles explained in the past two songs, but he has been able to grow and progress out of these struggles and live and reach the heights that he currently has. God is a great influence on him and Ken feels like his faith has helped him get to where he is now. All of the sacrifice and pain that Kendrick has felt has been worth it because of where he has gone now, and this is what he believes God feels like.

DUCKWORTH. (OUTRO)

DUCKWORTH is the story about Kendrick Lamar's father and how he feels that if it was not for his father passing and leaving him to his single mother, he feels he would never have been blessed with the ambition and opportunity to share his message and create his career in rapping. He believes himself that he most likely would have ended up just like every one of his friends in the hood, and die very young due to gang violence.

Therefore, in this story, he feels it has been a blessing and a curse to him, bringing him fame, fortune, and glory through rapping, but through the sacrifice of his father. It is a great ending to a piece of work that truly displays duality of humanity and nature itself as one can see it in our society.

All in all, Kendrick Lamar's new album is a beautiful piece of work that has elevated him to levels that other rap artists have not been able to attain because they are not able to capture the same level of realness, in my opinion. They are not able to invoke the same levels and variety of emotions, and Kendrick has shown us how great he is in that sense.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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