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Kendrick Lamar’s DAMNing of Black Transcendental Thought

Kendrick Lamar’s released DAMN in late April, and since then, the critically acclaimed album has reached the top ten charts on over 22 times in over 20 countries and has been certified platinum with over a million sales. DAMN punctilious defines transcendental hip-hop music, where counter intuitive thoughts and monosyllabic beats are coalesced in a symbiotic affinity that unites various prevalent and past ideas. Where “To Pimp a Butterfly” was awe in speaking truth of Black plight and upliftment, DAMN is at the forefront of our frontal lobes, which are eager to be enthralled in his often saturnine poetry. Once again, Lamar releases an album that is the antithesis of prolific thought and consciousness, while deeply rooted in Black politics in contemnor’s times.

Right from the start, Blood which resplendent of a metaphor “Blind leading the blind,” catapults us into an ether stream of copious devices which at times, are oxymoronic to his own credo. Only Lamar can start an album by creating a song in which the protagonist is the antagonist, depicting a helpless older blind woman as innocent and frail in need of help. Meanwhile, she internally plots a sinister methodical plan of murder and rage embroils, to which her unsuspecting victim lays expel. This auspicious thriller retorts the juxtaposition of innocent Black children shot down by cops, where the innocence of a child is apoplectic accession based on the color of their skin. Black children are infrequently viewed as guilty by society, canvassed as suspicious and violent, as the American psyche views Black boys and girls as more mature and aggressive. This track is a depiction of Lamar’s artistic vision, and gratuitous in the self-imposed identity politics that is often entrenched in our anima, that of which lies helpless, innocent, and may not accurately depict the ipseity of realization. This track is an assurance of what is to come; more mental vexation of hyperbole that exonerates our own apprehension of humility.

Lamar’s tracks DNA, Pride, and Humble moves us towards au courant of transcendentalism agnate to that of Emerson and Thoreau. Each song is a unique ubiquitous stream of consciousness speaking truth to the human condition. DNA, which is definitely a fan favorite, is a rap soliloquy of Kendrick’s life experiences, reconnecting self with oneness of human existence, while Pride and Humble are as eloquent as they are refined, are mantras for his newly developed anagogic personification of self. This is where Lamar acquiesces and ameliorates his life experiences, from eating syrupy sandwiches, to his presentation of higher echelon and the intrepid notoriety that ensues. The battle of remaining humble while still having pride in oneself is often a cumbersome position that many face when thrown into fame and success quickly while your life experience has not given you a finite plan as to deal with the many obstacles on your path. With his ability to poetically engage in the oxymoron of life, acknowledging the importance of reminding humble, while finding it difficult to remain humble, and his calling for humility and peace within himself. All three songs are resonant with the Black millennial experience, expressing self-invocation while living in a world where we stand educated enough to know ourselves, yet we must battle the industrial military complex that would rather us remain subservient. There is no place for pride in the US so as long as it is painted any color but the absent of all color.

Yah loses me and becomes a street mantra, less pointed, but argumentative more focused on conveying callous discourse of Lamar’s emotional self. While many artists have personified human emotions and exuberance through vernacular and musicality, Lamar paucity and absence of emotive continuity is still profound–when dissecting lyrics such as: “I got so many theories and suspicions I’m diagnosed with real nigga conditions. Today is the day I follow my intuition. Keep the family close—get money, fuck bitches.” These lyrics and bombastic eloquence, which many new artist lack, while enduring similar life circumstances; responding to your haters is now a clever art form. While I oppose the phrase “fuck bitches” as it is synonymous with relegating females as subservient sexual vessel, not worthy of equality, here the epithet is no longer autonomous with feminism politics but surpasses gender lines to represent the identities of any and everyone who directly opposes and works to implore conflict in one’s life. While meaningful in the discourse of Lamar’s life and present in his identity, Yah is the emotional representation of the artist’s anger, which may affix to mansplaining social commentary on misconstructions of perception. In other words, I could care less about what Fox News has to say; wasting lyrics on a passed-played canceled talk show syndication commenter is beneath Lamar’s pedigree. The majority of your audience probably has no clue as to who is Geraldo, and let’s keep it that way. I enjoyed the not so subtle response that pontificate on how to negates conspicuous a poetic truss.

Overall, DAMN is a thoroughly impressed voyage into Lamar’s mind and heart. It allows the listener to judge the music purely based on where you hear, and the music itself creates the experience, as opposed to having a virtual fixation where you have to determine whether the colors used were significant to the lyrics, or which African deity is being embodied. His raps are timeless because they are so genetically and phonetically basic that it a morphs into the alchemy of hip-hop rhyming. While it may be present in his heart, it resonates in the present, past, and future of time. Where it is prolific in self-identity, it is also so common that many can relate. I think Kendrick Lamar has proven to be an artist with longevity and vision. What are your thoughts?

What are your thoughts?


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