Author Topic: 1 $hot and AAMG Magazine Presents - Kendrick Lamar - DAMN Review  (Read 527 times)

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You can find this review and more in the summer issue of AAMG Magazine. This review was written by Coherent of Rebel Underground.

Kendrick Lamar's fourth studio album DAMN has been critically acclaimed for all the wrong reasons. While DAMN has radio appeal, unparalleled production quality, and of course the talent of Kendrick Lamar on every track - the deeper message and concept from this album is what makes the fanatical reception behind it worthy of classic status. The album revolves around the story of Anthony and Ducky, from Compton and Chicago respectively, whose meeting changed the trajectory of both their lives, for they would become partners and develop the next great rap star: Kendrick Lamar.  The story is of truth, Anthony is the founder of Top Dawg Ent, while Ducky is Kendrick's father, who moved from Chicago to Compton after meeting with Anthony on that fateful day.

The story of Anthony and Ducky is a motif that parallels a much grander concept built around God, the Bible, Hebrew ancestry and a curse of wickedness placed upon men as outlined in Deuteronomy 28. This dichotomy presented in the initial story is layered in the wickedness of the two men before their union. Top Dawg and Ducky's meeting, said to be karmic, helped both overcome the darkness in their hearts to create something Holy.  However, Kendrick, an immaculate talent faces his own demons, the same vices that brought down his mentors earlier in their lives. This sense of weakness and wickedness is something Lamar comes to grip with on the album, where the DAMN symbolizes his damnation upon a historic curse and how he is battling this curse and the innate beast within man to get into the good graces of God.

If you are not familiar with the Book of Deuteronomy from the Bible, it is a book of laws given by God to his chosen Hebrew people, laws to withstand the wicked nature of the world, their own fallen being, as well as the strict adherence Ark of the Covenant or the Ten Commandments.  While God grants many rewards to the adherents of these laws, failure to follow these laws would result in a curse that is outlined by Deuteronomy 28 of the Bible. Of the notable adversities enabled by this curse, the notion of men being sold into bondage to the enemies of God and being taken from their homes thus forced into diaspora is what inspired the conceptualization of Kendrick Lamar's DAMN.

In recent decades, many black communities have come forth claiming to be descendants of the ancient Hebrew people who once shared a covenant with God, arguing that the Jews within Israel today are imposters and that the real descendants were scattered by the Trans-Atlantic slave trade during the 17th-19th centuries as a result of the curse of Deuteronomy and the ancient Hebrew peoples inability to obey the commandments of God. DAMN is littered with this realization in songs like YAH, DNA, LOYALTY and FEAR that pose apocalyptic expressions, the consequences of a cursed man, and the revelation that our DNA is tainted and to an extent forsaken.

"I'm an Israelite, don't call me black no mo
That word is only a color, it ain't facts no mo" - YAH

"Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA....
I was born like this, since one like this
Immaculate conception
I transform like this, perform like this
Was Yeshua's new weapon" - DNA

DAMN is the story of a man fighting off his demons in repentance towards God, realizing that as he stands today God is not on his side and at this pace he will be eternally damned by feelings of PRIDE, LUST, FEAR, and the other sinful traits embellished by American culture. The whole album works kinda like angels and demons on Kendrick's shoulder talking to him in and out of this psyche; this is easily seen from the pitch changes throughout the song PRIDE.  He battles questions like weakness vs. wickedness, or if he can be loyal to God in a world full of sin, and whether is he is indeed a friend or foe of God. One thing Kendrick isn't questioning is if he can fake and hide his truth from the world any longer, and this album is a testimony to that integrity for Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick understands the repercussions of an allegiance with God in this wicked world - social outcasting, people waiting on his downfall, that he will have to roam in fear under heavy watch, and he even prophesies the idea of himself as a martyr dying in a gunfight. However, the gunshots at the beginning and end of the album don't necessarily reflect this prophecy, but more so the death of his spirit under his wicked ways. He atones that many in America are spiritually dead with signs of increased violence, greed, fake photoshop culture, lack of empathy, etc.  In LUST he talks about James 4:4, another Biblical scripture that exclaims friends of the world are enemies of God, thus people who succumb to their earthly desires and put more trust in man than God are effectively enemies of the divine.  Kendrick's heart knows what is right, but his ego is keeping him succumbed to the earthly pleasures that surround us.

It's always been a curious possibility that Kendrick Lamar may be the next artist to transcend hip-hop itself and stand for something larger than the culture, similar to his idol Tupac.  On DAMN, Kendrick's edict of apocalyptic end-times as a self-proclaimed martyr certainly fits that bill, but it isn't a surprise.  People with strong, righteous and moral sovereignty do not fair well in this wicked world, so DAMN could be Kendrick's testament to the powers that be that he is a free, God-fearing man, or it could be his allegiance to the wicked nature of man.  Like any religion, this is an album the listeners needs to interpret for themselves, treat DAMN like you would a religious text because it was inspired by that premise.  DAMN is an album about spiritual warfare, the human psychological condition, and the decisions we all are forced to make at that fork in the road.