Kendrick Lamar proves he is the greatest rapper of our generation, and that he is smarter than all of us with his new record, "Damn."
The Compton rapper is back and better than ever. He is untouchable by any of his peers. "Damn" oozes wisdom from less-than-stellar childhood experiences and insight into the screwed up society in which we are all living. His lyrics, often ridden with drive-by shootings and gang loyalty, evaluate the “hood politics” of primarily black, inner-city areas, painting a grim picture of these lives and future prospects.
“Ain’t no Black Power when your baby killed by a coward/I can’t even keep the peace, don’t you f*** with one of ours/It be murder in the street, it be bodies in the hour,” Lamar raps in “XXX” with U2.
At particular high points in the album, he takes it a step further and speaks not of the divisions, but of the oppression of African-Americans as a whole.
In the first two songs on the record, “BLOOD” and “DNA,” Lamar samples a Fox News segment in which Geraldo Rivera criticizes his 2015 performance of “Alright” at the BET Awards.
“Alright” is an uplifting track about making it through adversity. Rivera, however, did not take kindly to Lamar standing atop a police car and rapping “We hate the po-po, wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho,” and he took “My gun might blow” as a call for violent retaliation.
Lamar chose to play the clip of Rivera’s bold statement that his lyrics have “Done more damage to young African-Americans than racism in recent years.”
I know that a lot of artists have been getting political and speaking out against the hate that was validated and encouraged by the Trump campaign, but Lamar makes it personal by emphasizing that it is nobody’s fault but our own.
“Donald Trump's in office/We lost Barack and promised to never doubt him again/But is America honest, or do we bask in sin?/Pass the gin, I mix it with American blood,” he raps in “XXX” with U2.
Throughout the entire record, Lamar is brutally honest about the way things went down when all the kids in the poverty-ridden west side of Compton were armed. He’s the kid that made it out, so he feels a responsibility to honor that culture and those struggles that are undermined by so many. When he parallels those issues with the flaws in our country right now, the magic is made.
"Damn" is the voice of the silenced, the education to the ignorant and the punch in the face to those that try to ignore it. His words have a haunting way of provoking thought and staying with you.
“America/God bless you if it’s good to you.”