Kung-Fu Kenny kicks hard on his fourth studio album.
It was always going to be hard for Kendrick to follow up ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ – one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the past decade – but I feel like he has, by making a very different album.
Beginning with an eerie, tense spoken word track about an encounter with what Kendrick thinks is a blind woman who then turns round and shoots him, the album immediately kicks off after the gunshot, with ‘DNA’ being fast right out of the gates. The whole album isn’t a full out attack however, as directly following on from ‘DNA.’ is ‘YAH.’, a much chiller, melodic track similar to a few of the tracks on last year’s ‘untitled unmastered’. A few songs in a similar vein follow before the first of three featured artists on ‘DAMN.’ shows up.
‘LOYALTY.’ featuring Rihanna comes nearly halfway through the album, and it is one of the standout tracks. Calm and thoughtful with a repeated hook of the track’s title, ‘LOYALTY.’ layers Kendrick and Rihanna’s vocals and it just works. Lead single ‘HUMBLE.’ has an annoyingly catchy piano based beat that has stuck in my head since I first heard it, and yet again has effortlessly clever lyrics.
The second of the features on the album is LA singer and rapper Zacari, who is on the track ‘LOVE.’ The song is mostly sung by Kendrick and Zacari and has a very laid back, R&B feel to it. Following on from that is ‘XXX.’ featuring U2. When I first read about the Irish rock giants featuring on the track I was puzzled, but upon hearing it, the pairing works surprisingly well, with Bono providing some compelling, but not over done vocals on the track.
Overall, this is another great album from Kendrick. It may be more straight forward than To Pimp a Butterfly and not as experimental, but ‘DAMN.’ is in no way any less clever or exciting than it’s predecessor. What can he do from here?