"It's nasty when you set us up
Then roll the dice, then bet us up
You overnight the big riffles, then tell Fox
To be scared of us
Gangs members or terrorist
et cetera et cetera
America's reflection of me
that's what a mirror does."
-XXX. Feat. U2
Kendrick has done it again. When you think he can't get any more auspicious, he totally changes the game. His features are minimal, with Rihanna, Zacarías and U2. His production alone is authentic and fresh, and quite honestly, I wouldn't expect anything less with Top Dawg and his crew, Mike Will Made It, Steve Lacy, 9th Wonder and Bēkon just to name a few.
I think what makes this album so notable is the fact that this album isn't for anyone. Yes, it's relatable for his fans, but this is for Kendrick. This is his release. This is his canvas, his fears, his thoughts, his accomplishments, doubts, adjustments, and all around struggles that come with fame. Especially being a Black man who’s constantly trying to stay true to his morals. If anything, we're lucky that he's letting us in once again. It's true, this wouldn't be a Kendrick album if he didn't bring up politics; the disgust of Fox 9 news, their misrepresentation of Black culture, and the fear and uncertainty of Trump being in office, but this album isn't for them either. Even though he calls them out, (not cause he's petty) because they need to be held accountable for their actions, their morals.
That word pops into my head when I listen to Damn. The connection between Black culture and religion is strong throughout this album. Kendrick is open with his faith and his struggles within it. The titles of the songs remind you of the 7 Deadly Sins. For example: Love vs. Lust, knowing what your goals should be and trying to tear away from the mundane routines of life that distract you from what's truly important. There is a constant message, a guide if you will. You can blindly follow "you close your eyes to look around" or you can speak with your soul. The overall album is haunting, its style shows a complete cycle. My favorite tracks include DNA., ELEMENT., PRIDE., HUMBLE., and GOD. These tracks are a perfect representation of Kendrick's capabilities. You must take pride in your hard work while being humble, to not overstep boundaries and think your bigger than God. At the end of the day your still only mortal. "What happens on earth stays on earth."
Words by Tesia Pennie
Cover Photo by Paula Kudacki