by Michael P Coleman
I am not an avid rap / hip hop fan. Among artists whom I’ve really loved, D’Angelo comes the closest sonically to Kendrick Lamar, at least if his new DAMN. is any indication.
That may change.
I decided to explore the new album after reading about its surprise release overnight Thursday and its subsequent reception on “Black Twitter.” And since I sometimes think Twitter should be called The Third Testament, I decided to give DAMN. a listen.
That may have been the best decision I’ve made this week.
I am also not a fan of the type of language “employed” by Lamar and many other rap / hip hop artists. Generally, I think profanity is a linguistic crutch. But for the very first time in listening to a rap album, I felt and related to the rage being communicated. I found myself wishing I knew Lamar so he and I could have a conversation. It would be our second one, as he and I had quite the — no, we had a HELL of a conversation — as I listened to his new album.
Each of the songs on DAMN. is in all caps — Lamar won’t be ignored. The first song, “BLOOD,” begins with the artist telling us about heading out for a walk. That walk is interrupted by gunfire. In a world where an African American jaywalker in Sacramento was assaulted by a white city police officer earlier this week, that simple disclosure resonated. Lamar had my attention, and he kept it for the entire 58 minutes I spent listening to DAMN.
And then, I played the album again.
Lamar and I may be a generation apart, but in many ways we’re walking the same walk.
By the end of the album, when Lamar raps of having grown up without a father before dying in a gun fight, then repeats that simple refrain of talking a walk, he made it clear that his walk is a treacherous one. It’s one that no one should have to take alone.
Join Lamar, and listen to — no, hear — his exceptional new album.
Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is available digitally at iTunes or at retail.