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 f