In the two years since To Pimp a Butterfly, we’ve hung on Kendrick Lamar’s every word—whether he’s destroying rivals on a cameo, performing the #blacklivesmatter anthem on top of a police car at the BET Awards, or hanging out with Obama. So when DAMN. opens with a seemingly innocuous line—”So I was taking a walk the other day…”—we’re all ears. The gunshot that abruptly ends the track is a signal: DAMN. is a grab-you-by-the-throat declaration that’s as blunt, complex, and unflinching as the name suggests. If Butterfly was jazz-inflected, soul-funk vibrance, DAMN. is visceral, spare, and straight to the point, whether he’s boasting about “royalty inside my DNA” on the trunk-rattling “DNA.” or lamenting an anonymous, violent death on the soul-infused “FEAR.” No topic is too big to tackle, and the songs are as bold as their all-caps names: “PRIDE.” “LOYALTY.” “LOVE.” “LUST.” “GOD.” When he repeats the opening line to close the album, that simple walk has become a profound journey—further proof that no one commands the conversation like Kendrick Lamar.
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