The night that this album drop I binged it all. Every last song. Being the avid music journalist I am, I decided to write down my initial thoughts as I listened to Kendrick’s music.
Welcome to my first impressions.
BLOOD– The experience in the first song, Blood, is revolutionary. I jumped. I do not think you understand. I literally jumped out of my seat. It contains one of those “wait for it” effects that you can not miss.
DNA– goes hard, not as lyrically entitled compared to his other singles but that is probably the reason he did not release it as a single. The beat is sensational. I started to sense a pattern of voice bites that he took from the media to help further his deeper meanings of police brutality. The deeper this song goes, the deeper its lyrics.
YAH– At this moment I started to notice that every song is in all caps, to depict that this artist has no chill left. Any drop of chill that still remained in Kendrick probably lives in this slower kick back song. “I am not a politician, I am an israelite don’t call me black no more.” Kendrick what are you smoking? By far going to be one of his most controversial songs, and I am perfectly okay with that. This whole album is controversial to be honest, unless you are a real Kendrick fan. Meaning you will let some of the things he says slide.
ELEMENT– Watch your profanity….. Every other word is a curse word until Kendrick arrives at the hook “Won’t let them take me out my element”
At this point I did not write a lot for this song because for anyone listening to Kendrick’s album needs to hear what this man is saying for themselves then proceed to digest it bit by bit with headphones and zero interruptions. Every lyric has a message, he is speaking his mind into poetry. I was truly shook.
FEEL– Especially in this song. listen to this song with headphones- another experience element added like that of BLOOD. Echoes that cross in and out through your head (split audio) “I feel” is the mantra that runs through this piece. I feel like I am reading his diary. “F*ck yo feelings” unapologetic beauty…
“Who the f*ck is praying for me?” well after this song everyone.
LOYALTY ft. Rihanna- Okay rihanna.. I see you. Kendrick went hard in his verse but the beat is not as impressive compared to his other songs in the track list. I get his point though. Loyalty is a quality that needs to come back into mainstream manners. If you can’t be loyal to everything then at least be loyal to one thing. It is a lost causality. I feel like the rest of kendrick’s album tells a story and this was kind of just dropped in there without a home…
PRIDE– Back into the narrative with another life lesson from papa Lamar. He jumps into the song listing our world’s most obvious obvious prideful sins. Afterwards, he admits his imperfections showing that just like our imperfect world he himself has issues and is not claiming nor insinuating anything along the lines of him being perfect. This song involves him manipulating his voice, maybe a simple creative choice in style or a connection to the imperfect qualities mentioned in this song. This song also alludes to its follow up HUMBLE and its values. They are opposites, a contradictory of sort.
HUMBLE– I talked to a friend once and he mentioned that he was not as huge of a fan as everyone else was when HUMBLE came out. I would be lying if I said I was not surprised that every single person who heard this release was not in love with it. I also value this dude’s opinion and he told me something that changed my view of music. He said that he felt as if Kendrick was just bragging, and pointed out the irony in the song title. Afterwards, he mentioned how his theory and reasoning for disliking this song could all be debunked after the rest of the album has been released giving context to its meaning.
Now, with PRIDE and other Kendrick songs of the album DAMN being released, I believe that he pointedly predicted the downfall of his theory due to the context of the album DAMN. My new theory is that PRIDE is a song telling his viewers to get rid of that damning attribute in order to make the world a better place. Then he touches on the beautiful tool that is irony by rapping about his success in a song titled HUMBLE…. Genious
LUST– More split audio. I love how Kendrick experiments with his audio effects and never goes overboard, well at least in my opinion. In this song he narrates an average day in the life of Kendrick. The surface message is just telling the listener to make their days count. The deeper meaning hiding under Kendrick just explaining what he did each day in great detail, is how life is just an endless confusing routine that we are stuck in. A loop, the same song on replay day after day. The tone in the song is dreary and eerie, like we can not escape from it.
LOVE– Kendrick introducing a new artist who is insanely talented. This dude can sang. Not sing… sang. It is another parallel like pride was to humble, lust is to love.
(It was here that I realised the other parallels throughout his album such as BLOOD to DNA)
Lust was just in the routine. Love was an interruption to the chaos and boring day to day life we suffer in. Just like Zacari’s voice, love is beautiful “bubbly” “Living Lovely, Just love me” “I wanna be with you” This song is so pretty. This song is love. Kendrick has a real talent for bringing sound to inanimate feeling and values. This is my new favorite song off of Kendrick’s album.
XXX– Kendrick + U2 = wtf? On first glance. Then you hear the introduction beat and bop your head. Then you sit and enjoy as you wait for U2 to come in, try to prepare yourself. As you wait, Kendrick played around a bit with his audio and it came out glorious. Then, Kendrick drops that beat and your head bops harder, you start to realise that U2 was responsible for the revolutionary lack of instruments. Just bass and sirens at one point Kendrick raps over nothing but breathing then he raps over nothing but gunshots then he raps over nothing but a car screech.
Then you hear U2 for the first time and the blues jazz feel takes you back, you may even close your eyes at the nature sound in the back track that is clouded by a drum set. More deep political lyrics from the non-politician that is Kendrick. Then U2 takes it home “All drums and bass, you close your eyes to look around” Best lyric in this whole album by far.
FEAR– Jumps into it with a phone call. He is being preached to by his cousin who tries to explain to him why he feels the way he does. Kendrick’s raps are then played…. backwards? He then spits lyrics that sound like they came from his mother, who raised him out of FEAR “n*gga you gon’ fear me if you don’t fear no one else” I wonder if this is his testimony to the way fear messed up his life or if he is just creating an illustrating all of the things he has been fearful over… I think it is the second one. Another view into Kendrick’s diary, I just sit and listen because this is all too beautiful to be interrupted by my computer keys click click clicking from typing so fast.
It is saddening and moving to hear all of the fears that run through a man like Kendrick’s mind. As if there is another human being like Kendrick, this song is unique. The ending is partially an intro into the next song. I predicted that FEAR was another parallel and the thing that contradicted it was GOD. but it ultimately ends with Kendrick’s cousin carl summing up the reason for his misery.
GOD– “This what god feel like” God has not given us the spirit of fear, so it makes sense that the polar opposite to Kendrick’s song FEAR is a song that encompasses Kendrick’s feeling towards GOD. This song is redemption “Don’t Judge me” This song is happiness, This song is the second most upbeat thing after LOVE… maybe because god is love and love is god. (deep)
DUCKWORTH– The last song on this album is a mysterious conclusion that is filled with tempo changes and explanations. Listen closely for the takeaways. I still don’t know what DUCKWORTH is or means but I am going to assume it has to do something from where he is from or what made him the talented poet that he is today. Yes. Poet not rapper. His lyrics, rhyme flow, and messages have the power to change lives. NOT ONCE was there mention of having sex with tricks or how many lamborghinis he owned. This song ends in a backward track and then goes back to his first song.
Kendrick took something simple like a gunshot and hid it as a symbol inside of his music.
My mind is blown by it all. Every last bit.