All The Times We Shouted 'DAMN.' While Listening To Kendrick Lamar's Album
By Isha Thorpe
April 14, 2017
Kendrick Lamar finally released his DAMN. album at midnight (April 14). And in true K. Dot fashion, it’s an instant classic.
When the public saw the video for “HUMBLE.,” I think I speak for every hip hop lover out there when I say that we all got shook. The artistry of the song’s visual AND the savage way he proudly came for the other rappers in the industry made us eat, sleep and dream DAMN. until we were eventually blessed with it.
From jump street, it's always been about who’s the realest. Either you got bars or you take your ass home. Plain and simple. But since day one, K. Dot has been respected as the true lyrist he is. From the releases of Section.80; to Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, To Pimp A Butterfly and even his surprise compilation album Untitled Unmastered that dropped last year; Lamar has always been the truth.
He's been solidifying his spot on the throne for a cool minute. Think about it. Lamar is the same California MC who proudly proclaimed himself to be the “King Of New York” on Big Sean’s “Controlla.” DAMN. continues to have us praising the artist’s genius. Many are even calling him the greatest rapper of our time – while others affirm that this new project proves that he’s the greatest rapper of all time. The way K. Dot can deliver lyrics that are intertwined with his fun, clever word play, along with real, unapologetic truth, all while bars structured so intricately is what makes us respect him as the future rap icon he's gradually becoming – or already is.
I’ve rounded up the best moments of DAMN. that made me loudly (in my head) say the album’s name. To be honest, when I first learned what the project would be entitled, I automatically believed that Kung Fu Kenny purposely named it DAMN. because it was the main word that came to mind when he spit certain things and heard them back, or the number one word he noticed people who heard it before it dropped say constantly throughout the album when it played. Peep my top DAMN. moments below.
1) When I heard Geraldo Rivera’s voice on "BLOOD.," "DNA." and "YAH." and Kendrick's Response.
Last year, Fox personality Geraldo Rivera had some strong opinions about K. Dot’s “Alright” single. The song served as an inspirational, uplifting track for the urban community who kept witnessing consistent injustices against unarmed black men and women at the hands of police brutality. Rivera didn’t see it this way when he recited a few of its lyrics on air. “We hate po-po/Wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho,” the on-air personality said. He added: “This is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans that racism in recent years…. It is so wrong, it is so counterproductive, it gives exactly the wrong message.”
Lamar responded back to Rivera’s out-of-touch opinions on "BLOOD.," "DNA." and "YAH.". Snippets of Rivera’s words were played on "BLOOD.," "DNA." specifically, as K. Dot spoke about topics such as police brutality from the perspective of the urban community… some people Rivera would never understand because if he did, he wouldn’t have made his previous comments in the first place.
Then on “YAH,” Lamar snapped: “Fox News wanna use my name for percentage/My latest news in my niece, she’s worth livin/See me on the TV and scream ‘That’s Uncle Kendrick!’/Yeah that’s the business/Somebody tell Geraldo this n*gga got some ambition.”
2) When Kendrick Lamar Threw More Shade On “ELEMENT.”
We already got a dose of the disses K. Dot aimed at some rappers from "HUMBLE.," one presumably being Big Sean. But, if you thought he was finished with the slander, guess again. Kung Fu Kenny had some more choppin’ to do. From rapping lines like “That's why you maney-ass rap n**gas better know/ If I gotta slap a p**sy ass n**ga, I’mma make it look sexy,” he came for the frauds. Then, Lamar kept wildin’ with other lyrics like, “Cause most of y'all ain't real/ Most of y'all gon' squeal/ Most of y'all just envy, but jealousy get you killed/ Most of y'all throw rocks and try to hide your hand/ Just say his name and I promise that you'll see Candyman.” And by saying, “But it's a difference between black artists and wack artists,” he preached.
3) When Kendrick Gave Me My New Favorite Quote
In “PRIDE.,” the MC spit, “I can't fake humble just cuz ya ass is insecure” and it hit me like a thousand bricks – very close to home. After all, you can't help being the s**t! My new favorite statement, which has already been tweeted by me with a passion, FYI.
4) Of course, "HUMBLE."
But, do I really have to speak on this? Lamar continued on his blood bath on DAMN. with this. He rapped: "Who dat n**ga thinkin' that he frontin' on Man-Man? (Man-Man)/ Get the f**k off my stage, I'm the Sandman (Sandman)/ Get the f**k off my d**k, that ain't right/ I make a play f**kin' up your whole life.” Better yet, just watch the video again…
5) When I heard "XXX." Featuring U2 And Thought It Was Flames
I have to be completely honest. My eyebrows were raised higher than the empire state building when I learned that Lamar had a song on the album with U2. I said, “The rock people?!” But, this song instantly became one of my favorite tracks on the entire album. Besides the production being out of control, hearing U2’s voice after the MC’s lyrics were life. It’s another #StayWoke anthem. There’s no such thing as too many of these, anyway.
Lamar jamming out with a rock group reminded me of the previous rock collab Lamar did at the 2014 Grammys. When the rapper did his thing with Imagine Dragons and performed “Radioactive,” my mind was completely blown. It was the best performance of the night! “XXX.” was just as amazing and hopefully the two acts will perform it live soon. Shout out to U2!
6) When I Learned Even Kendrick Lamar Gets Scared
The different levels of fright that Lamar perfectly describes on “FEAR.” was genius. Not only does he speak about the fear of being a black man in America and the conflicts he can face because of it, but he goes even deeper. While rapping from the perspective of a child’s parent, he details that fear has the potential of being everywhere for inner city youths -- including inside and outside of the home. As urban youth, we are first afraid of our parents because they are our first authoritative figures. As we get older, we can deal with fears of potentially dangerous retaliation from others in our hoods that we, or our friends/family, don’t get along with. Moreover, we can be afraid of cops who may or may not judge us, or our loved ones, solely based on how we look or where we’re from. So, to ask a minority who lives in a certain area if they are afraid is like ask if we breathe. It can very well be never-ending.
7) When Kendrick Finished His Epic Story… With The Very Beginning On “DUCKWORTH.”
Reverse chronology is one of the most enticing ways, in my opinion, to tell a story. But, first thing’s first, let's talk about the main idea of “DUCKWORTH.” The story Lamar paints the lives of “Ducky” and “Anthony” on the track, and illustrates how one bad decision someone makes growing up can change their lives forever. This hit close to home and I thought about some guys who I knew growing up in the Stuy, whose lives could've ended up much better, if they made better choices and had people to tell them to make these better decisions. Then, at the end of the song, magic happens. Lamar reverses not just the song – but the entire album – and ends the project with the beginning of this whole, thought-provoking, conversation-starting LP. What better way to end such a masterpiece than to start anew?
Follow me on Twitter @IshaThorpe to talk more K. Dot, DAMN. and hip hop.