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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35 Major Life Facts According To Nick Miller

"All booze is good booze, unless it's weak booze."

Fact: If you watch "New Girl," you love Nick Miller.

You can't help it. He's an adorable, lovable mess of a man and you look forward to seeing him and his shenanigans each week. While living the infamous and incomparable life of Nick Miller, and obviously Julius Pepperwood— he has learned many valuable laws of the land. And, although Nick refuses to learn anything from anyone besides his mysterious, old Asian friend Tran, he does have a few lessons he'd like to teach us.

Here are 35 facts of life according to 'Nick Milla Nick Milla':

1. Drinking keeps you healthy.

"I'm not gonna get sick. No germ can live in a body that is 65% beer."

2. Dinosaurs never existed.

"I don't believe dinosaurs existed. I've seen the science. I don't believe it."

3. A paper bag is a bank.

"A bank is just a paper bag but with fancier walls."

4. Having sex is similar to delivering mail.

"I'm like a mailman, except instead of mail it's hot sex that I deliver."

5. Moonwalking is a foolproof way to get out of any awkward situation.

Jess (about Nick): "Now he won't even talk to me. I saw him this morning and he just panic moonwalked away from me. He does that sometimes."

6. Using a movie reference is also a great way.

Cece: "Come on, get up!"

Nick: "No, I don't dance. I'm from that town in "Footloose."

7. There's no reason to wash towels.

Nick: "I don’t wash the towel. The towel washes me. Who washes a towel?"

Schmidt: "You never wash your towel?"

Nick: "What am I gonna do? Wash the shower next? Wash a bar of soap?"

8. Exes are meant to be avoided at all costs (especially if/unless they're Caroline)

"I don't deal with exes, they're part of the past. You burn them swiftly and you give their ashes to Poseidon."

9. IKEA furniture is not as intimidating as it looks.

"I'm building you the dresser. I love this stuff. It's like high-stakes LEGOs."

10. You don't need forks if you have hands.

Jess: "That's gross. Get a fork, man."

Nick: "I got two perfectly good forks at the end of my arms!"

11. Sex has a very specific definition.

"It's not sex until you put the straw in the coconut."

12. Doors are frustrating.

"I will push if I want to push! Come on! I hate doors!"

13. All booze is good booze.

"Can I get an alcohol?"

14. ...unless it's weak booze.

"Schmidt, that is melon flavored liquor! That is 4-proof! That is safe to drink while you're pregnant!"

15. Writers are like pregnant women.

Jess: "You know what that sound is? It's the sound of an empty uterus."

Nick: "I can top that easily. I'm having a hard time with my zombie novel."

Jess: "Are you really comparing a zombie novel to my ability to create life?"

Nick: "I'm a writer, Jess. We create life."

16. All bets must be honored.

"There is something serious I have to tell you about the future. The name of my first-born child needs to be Reginald VelJohnson. I lost a bet to Schmidt."

17. Adele's voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.

"Adele is amazing."

18. Beyoncé is extremely trustworthy.

"I'd trust Beyoncé with my life. We be all night."

19. Fish, on the other hand, are not.

“Absolutely not. You know I don’t trust fish! They breathe water. That's crazy!"

20. Bar mitzvahs are terrifying.

Schmidt: "It's a bar mitzvah!"

Nick: "I am NOT watching a kid get circumcised!"

21. are blueberries.

Jess: "So far, Nick Miller's list of fears is sharks, tap water, real relationships..."

Nick: "And blueberries."

22. Take your time with difficult decisions. Don't be rash.

Jess: "You care about your burritos more than my children, Nick?"

Nick: "You're putting me in a tough spot!"

23. Getting into shape is not easy.

"I mean, I’m not doing squats or anything. I’m trying to eat less donuts."

24. We aren't meant to talk about our feelings.

"If we needed to talk about feelings, they would be called talkings."

25. We're all a little bit too hard on ourselves.

"The enemy is the inner me."

26. Freezing your underwear is a good way to cool off.

"Trust me, I'm wearing frozen underpants right now and I feel amazing. I'm gonna grab some old underpants and put a pair into the freezer for each of you."

27. Public nudity is normal.

"Everbody has been flashed countless times."

28. Alcohol is a cure-all.

"You treat an outside wound with rubbing alcohol. You treat an inside wound with drinking alcohol."

29. Horses are aliens.

"I believe horses are from outer-space."

30. Turtles should actually be called 'shell-beavers.'

Jess: "He calls turtles 'shell-beavers."

Nick: "Well, that's what they should be called."

31. Trench coats are hot.

"This coat has clean lines and pockets that don't quit, and it has room for your hips. And, when I wear it, I feel hot to trot!"

32. Sparkles are too.

"Now, my final bit of advice, and don't get sensitive on this, but you've got to change that top it's terrible and you've got to throw sparkles on. Sparkles are in. SPARKLES ARE IN."

33. Introspection can lead to a deeper knowing of oneself.

"I'm not convinced I know how to read. I've just memorized a lot of words."

34. It's important to live in the moment.

"I know this isn't gonna end well but the middle part is gonna be awesome."

35. Drinking makes you cooler.

Jess: "Drinking to be cool, Nick? That's not a real thing."

Nick: "That's the only thing in the world I know to be true."

Cover Image Credit: Hollywood Reporter

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The Zodiac Signs As Bath And Body Works Scents

Just in case you want to know what scent you are!

Bath and Body Works fans could be considered to be part of a cult. The scents draw you in as if calling your name, if you ever
wondered what your scent should be based on your zodiac sign, here it is!

Aries: Country Apple

The rather impulsive Aries takes their time picking and choosing the scents from Bath and Body Works. The soothing scent of a fresh apple orchard is just what they need on a daily basis to keep up with their shenanigans.

Taurus: Japanese Cherry Blossom

The personality of a Taurus is stubborn, or what I like to say, is stuck in their ways. When they first discovered this scent in middle school, this was it. This is the only scent you will find anywhere around a Taurus.

Libra: Pink Chiffon

Pink Chiffon is another cult classic. This best selling scent went out of style for a hot second but is back and bigger than ever.

Leo: Thousand Wishes

Thousand Wishes is a purr-fect scent for a Leo. The light scent adornes the wearer just the right amount to get the desired reaction from those around them.

Aquarius: Be Enchanted

The rather cold personality of an Aquarius is counteracted by the loving scent of Be Enchanted. The scent is just enough tenderness for the wearer to be relaxed.

Gemini: Moonlight Path

Gemini's constantly change their favorite scent and are in and out of the store almost weekly to by new lotions, candles, and body washes. You will never see a full empty bottle of anything, however, Moonlight Path is the scent they keep coming back to again and again.

Virgo: Sea Island Cotton

The clean personality of a Virgo must be matched with the clean scent of Sea Island Cotton.

Capricorn: Cucumber Melon

Another clean scent of Cucumber Melon is the exact thing a Capricorn needs. The balance and calming scents are what make this scent so attractive to a Capricorn.

Scorpio: Paris Amour

The light scent is what you would expect from an extreme sign like a Scorpio. The scent lightly washes over the wearer in almost a cloud that

Sagittarius: Cashmere Glow

Cashmere Glow is a perfect scent for the winter sign. The vanilla and golden peach scent is just the mixture that creates the perfect accessory in the chilly months.

Pisces: Warm Vanilla Sugar

This lovely scent accentuates the lovely personality of a Pisces. They can never get enough of this scent so they just keep buying and buying until they have a full stockpile.

Cancer: Velvet Sugar

Velvet Sugar is the perfect blend of red velvet and strawberries and a Cancer is always changing their mind. The wearer can tell if it is a more red velvet or strawberry kind of day, and that is the balance that they need in their lives.

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