Disclaimer: Kendrick Lamar is kind of the reason I started caring about hip hop again after the nineties ended. His writing is so layered. His story telling is so well-developed. There’s so much to unpack when it comes to his songs, and even more so when it comes to his albums. But I don’t really feel comfortable writing publicly about DAMN. Not because I don’t love it (because I REALLY do), but because I feel as though Kendrick and I have been…intimate.
Mind you, I’ve never even breathed the same air as Kendrick. (Well perhaps once, but I was so engulfed in the OG I never made it past the backstage door.) But as contemporary artists go, his vulnerability is unmatched. After listening to and writing about his last few albums, I feel I know his deepest secrets. I’ve heard him cry. I’ve seen his petty side. I’ve smirked while he describes his sex life…I know too much to regard him as casual article fodder.
Of course none of this is content that only Kendrick has covered; other rappers have been more-than-candid about sex, depression, and more. But Kendrick strikes a special chord. His messianic poetry juxtaposed with unpretentious honesty pierces right into my soul. And with the astounding number of analyses (aka “think pieces”) that always come in the wake of Kendrick Lamar projects, I’ve digested his writing so many times in so many ways…he feels like a part of me now.
When DAMN. comes on, I hear him in my ears, but also inside my head. As his voice shifts characters within and between tracks I greet each one like a familiar relative. Sure, part of me wants to tell the world about all the gems in this album and its resulting cultural impact. Part of me wants to talk about this video of kids in Sacramento dancing to “HUMBLE.”,
to comment on the genius and fearlessness behind his call-out of Geraldo and proclamation of the impending apocalypse…
But I won’t. Sometimes we talk too motherfuckin much and kill the vibe. Better if you just feel it for yourself.