It's No 'To Pimp A Butterfly,' But 'DAMN.'..... It's Still Pretty Good

It's No 'To Pimp A Butterfly,' But 'DAMN.'..... It's Still Pretty Good

With his fourth studio effort, Kendrick Lamar continues to get personal, addressing issues in his life from religion and dealing with fame to lust and feeling 'God-like'

Okay, you can call me lame for trying to incorporate the album title into my headline like everyone else has done on their other articles and reaction videos to this record, but I couldn't help it. Now, obviously going into this new release from Lamar, I wasn't expecting it to be as good or even better than what I consider to be his best record and a "masterpiece," To Pimp A Butterfly. I say this because the amount of effort, thoughtfulness, and quality that it offered was just off the charts and really made people speculate or begin to believe that Kendrick is one of the greatest rappers ever, if not the greatest. One thing that I can say that I got from DAMN. was the fact that this record was by far Lamar's most commercial sounding project yet, especially compared to the jazz and funk influenced sounds on his past two projects To Pimp A Butterfly and untitled unmastered., with it's trap inspired production on some of the tracks and the record's features like Rihanna and rock icons U2 (which were two of the three contributing artists credited on the album with Zacari being the last one, along with some uncredited vocals and spoken word from people like Anna Wise and Kung Fu Kenny). Another thing that I noticed from this album was that while it addressed many themes throughout such as religion, Lamar's struggle of dealing with fame, lust, culture, relationships, one of the seven deadly sins ("PRIDE."), being a "God-like" figure compared to his contemporaries and peers in the rap game, life, death, and love, this album wasn't a true conceptual record as his previous two studio albums, good kid, m.A.A.d. city and To Pimp A Butterfly, which is understandable because it is interesting to see Lamar go in a different direction with a new sound and an album that is honestly just straight up hip-hop containing a few topical themes to address.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if there are people who decide to call this album a "concept record" because while it doesn't truly tell a step-by-step story that flows together by the end, it does contain many "concept-like" thoughts to it. An example can be the intro track to this album, "BLOOD." in which Lamar notices a blind lady struggling to find something on the sidewalk and decides to go over and ask her if she needs any assistance, to which the lady ends up shooting him to death. This track was the first of the many life and death related motifs and themes heard throughout the album, as well as introducing the "wickedness or weakness" concept that Lamar seems to use in the record too, especially since the blind lady represented the weakness in the beginning and once she shoots Lamar, she's considered to be wicked. Another reason why people would consider this album to be a "concept album" is because on the last track of the release titled "DUCKWORTH.," the album goes in reverse and ends with the first lyric that Lamar says to kick the whole album off "So I was takin' a walk the other day." implying a "rise from the dead" type of theme, and this would make sense as the album was released on "Good Friday." Overall, I would have to say that this new release from Lamar was more personal than political or conceptual as To Pimp A Butterfly and good kid, m.A.A.d city were, and I'm not saying that's a bad thing by any means as he does address many topics that are going on in his life in both a thoughtful and straightforward way.

Some songs that were highlights for me after listening through this record include the lead single "HUMBLE." in which Lamar tells his listeners to be humbled by the lyrics he dishes out in his songs and addresses issues such as positive body image among women by saying "I'm so f***** sick and tired of the photoshop/show me somethin' natural like afro on Richard Pryor/show me somethin' natural like ass with some stretch marks," and mixing religious themes with urban life in the song's "out-there" but excellent music video, and "DNA." was another standout track for me as it shows Lamar acknowledging his black heritage and culture and shunning those people who abuse and receive profit from that black culture and heritage. Other tracks that I think are worth mentioning include "FEEL.," "LOVE." featuring Zacari, and "FEAR.", especially the latter song because I love how Lamar describes three different instances of fear that he has experienced throughout his life with one being when he was a young seven year old who encounters a life of domestic violence in his household, a teenage Kendrick who expresses his fear of dying young as a result of being surrounded by gang violence and police brutality around the neighborhood that he lives in, and what seems to be the present Kendrick who discusses the lack of confidence he has in himself, and fearing that he might lose the successful life that he has made for himself and his family. "LOVE." is a great song as well with a fantastic chorus sung by musician Zacari that sounds very passionate as the song is a ballad about Lamar reflecting on his relationship with his real-life fiancé and how they can strengthen the biggest characteristic of their romantic bond, which is love. However, while I do like a majority of these tracks on this new record from Lamar, especially from a lyrical standpoint, I still find that some of these tunes come up a bit short.

Mainly the two songs that I can't seem to connect with on this album are "YAH.," and "LOYALTY." featuring Rihanna. While I actually appreciate the messages of both of these songs, with "YAH." talking about how the press, mainly Fox News, wants to know about everything he believes and that he's "not a politician," and "not 'bout a religion" adding more religious themes into the song as well, along with calling out Fox News broadcaster Geraldo Rivera, and "LOYALTY." being about how both friendly and loving relationships need to possess honesty and loyalty to make them work out and become successful, I don't really care for the choruses on either of these songs mainly because they don't provide much lyrical prowess as in many of the other tracks from Lamar on this record. In addition, the instrumentation on "LOYALTY." is probably my least favorite beat on the record just because the "chipmunk background vocals," as I like to call them, seem a bit off-putting and a little annoying to me. However, with more listens, the songs might grow on me with time, so we shall see.

Now, I know that I can't relate to any of these situations that Lamar depicts in his lyrics, so giving a review/opinion like this might make me look like that I don't know what I'm talking about because I don't live in a rough area like Compton, California, but I don't listen to Kendrick's work because I relate to the "pictures he paints" with his lyrics, I listen to him because I appreciate how conscious and thoughtful he is with his words and beat choices throughout his projects, and he does a superb job telling stories from start to finish on his albums as well, even if I don't relate to any of them. In conclusion, I think this album was a great release as a whole because while it wasn't as detailed, thought-out, and mind-blowing like To Pimp A Butterfly and good kid, m.A.A.d. city, Kendrick does a great job rapping about the topics he addresses regarding his personal life and feelings on this record, despite how straightforward and simple it is. Whether we could possibly see Lamar drop a new album on Easter Sunday, amid many rumors and speculations from media outlets and fans alike, for now this record continues to show how confident Lamar is becoming as an artist and that he is at the absolute "top of his game."

Album Rating: 9/10

Favorite Tracks: "DNA.," "LOVE." featuring Zacari, "FEAR.," "HUMBLE.," "ELEMENT.," "FEEL."

Least Favorite Tracks: "YAH.," "LOYALTY." featuring Rihanna

Cover Image Credit: Genius

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.


So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?



Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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The 2020 Election: The Democratic Party Part 1

We all have the duty of becoming politically conscious in order to wisely act on the crucial decision that lies ahead of us in the very near future. In this unbiased, multi-part series you'll be able to get a brief look into both the 2020 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.


The race for the 2020 presidential election is on the rise as 24 Democrats and 2 Republicans have been officially confirmed as potential candidates. Ranging from California to New York, we may recognize "big names" such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, however, it's important to get to know all the candidates in order to have a clear idea as to who you want to be leading the country for the next four years.

*Due to the high number of Democratic candidates, they will all be highlighted over the course of three articles throughout the coming weeks.

1. Joe Biden

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Serving as the Vice President alongside Barack Obama and former senator of Delaware, Joe Biden has already ran for president twice, making the 2020 election his third and what he considers, final time. Biden hopes to strengthen the middle class by raising the minimum wage to a more livable standard. He also hopes to restrict the purchase of guns through background checks as well as being in support of a ban on assault weapons.

2. Bernie Sanders

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Having served on both the House of Representatives and The Senate, Bernie Sanders has caught the attention of many Americans due to his push for universal healthcare with the idea that "All Americans are entitled to go to the doctor when they're sick and not go bankrupt after staying in the hospital." As well as making public secondary-education schools tuition-free in a mission to help lower student debt. Sanders believes in the threat of climate change as his campaign includes the future of passing a Green New Deal to move from fossil fuels to sustainable energy as well as ban fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure. Bernie Sanders additionally believes in abolishing the death penalty, reforming the police system, and ending the discrimination of applicants based on criminal history

3. Beto O'Rourke

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Beto O'Rourke has represented Texas in the House of Representatives from 2013 - 2019. He has a noteworthy platform towards business which includes increasing federal funding towards the Manufacturing Extension Partnership that would aid in creating competitiveness with America's small- and medium-sized manufacturers against global markets. O'Rourke also believes in the idea of increasing voter numbers no matter what the political party may be as well as help ex-convicts regain their right to vote after serving their sentences. In doing so, he plans to create more outreach to the younger generations by ensuring pre-voter registration for all 16 and 17 year olds. Moreover, Beto pushes for a change in creating new term limits for the US House, Senate, and Supreme Court.

4. Kamala Harris

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Kamila is a lawyer and has served as the junior US senator and Attorney General of California. While she is new to the presidential election process, Harris aims to increase teacher pay with the "largest federal investment in teacher pay in U.S. history with a $13,500 raise." Moreover, using her specialization in legal matters regarding sexual assault, Kamila hopes to protect Planned Parenthood as well as women's reproductive rights. Harris states that as President, she will eliminate the wage gap between men and women as well as racial disparities involving maternal health care. Harris additionally hopes in protecting LGBTQ+ rights by not only passing an Equality Act to fight against discrimination in schools, work, and public, but appoint an Attorney General with the purpose of investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals.

5. Elizabeth Warren

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Growing up in rural Oklahoma in a low-income home and eventually serving as a US senator for Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is described as a progressive candidate who's campaign is working towards "universal childcare, student loan debt relief, and down payments on a Green New Deal and Medicare for All." Warren hopes to build the middle class up and defend unionized jobs by allowing 40% of board members to be elected through employees. Moreover, Warren is in favor of strengthening the military as well has bringing troops home from overseas, as well as banning private prisons and decriminalizing marijuana. She additionally has stated to end Washington corruption by banning lobbying along with preventing Senators and Congressman from trading stocks whilst in office.

6. Cory Booker

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Attending Stanford and later graduating from Yale Law School, Cory Booker became the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey. Booker's main concern is to end gun violence, ban assault weapons, and bring his battle to the attention of the NRA to create "liberty for all." His 14-part plan includes creating a more extensive process to obtain a gun, one of which would including an FBI-issued background check as well as requiring "micro-stamping" on all guns to ensure the ability to trace back the source of ammunition used in crimes. Moreover, Americans seeking a gun license would have to apply for a 5-year license after which would require renewal. Booker has also proposed the idea of providing newborns with savings accounts that would accumulate until they reached 18. He states that this plan would help settle the gap between the classes by offering lower-income households a nest-egg averaging at about $46,000. He also aims to make contraceptives employer-covered and repeal the punishment for an abortion outside of incest, rape, or for the woman's health.

7. Kirsten Gillibrand

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From New York, Kristin Gillibrand became a US Senator in 2009, becoming the youngest person in the Senate at the time. Her 2020 platform includes creating universal healthcare for all that would cover both mental and reproductive health in addition to it's regular standards. Her stance on Medicare For All also stands for reducing the price of prescription drugs as well as aiding in the process of overcoming addiction. Gillibrand also aims to introduce postal banking which would allow those without checking accounts have the opportunity to take out small loans through their local post office. Moreover, she believes in not only the legalization of both medical and recreation marijuana, but in erasing all past convictions from it. Kristin Gillibrand stands with strengthening the middle class by raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, creating paid medical and parental leave for all Americans, and fighting for the right to form unions and protect worker's rights.

8. Amy Klobuchar

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Amy Klobuchar is a lawyer and politician who currently serves as a US Senator from Minnesota. Klobuchar's campaign fights for providing every household in America with high-speed internet by the year 2020 along with aiding farmers by increasing their access to loan programs as well as raising farm bankruptcy debt levels. Moreover, she hopes to better the education system by increasing teacher pay and putting more money towards public schools. As well as increasing the federal Pell Grant and tuition-free one to two year community and technical colleges. Amy Klobucher believes in re-instated the DREAM Act to grant citizenship for foreigners who immigrated to America as minors. She supports immigration reform as well as ending the cruel separation and treatment of families on the lines of the border and creating a refined pathway to gain citizenship.

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