After dropping surprise single The Heart Part IV last month, Kendrick Lamar follows up with his fourth album, Damn.
Blood opens the record with a soulful downtempo feel, before Lamar launches headfirst into the aggressive, low dub drone of DNA.
From the Bruno Mars 24K Magic samples on Loyalty (which features Rihanna) to the retro funk vibe on Pride, Lamar pays homage to classic hip hop sounds, but his lyrical themes are searingly present, dealing with the darkness and uncertainty of modern times.
Surprise U2 collaboration XXX may have seemed incongruous on paper, but ends up being one of the album highlights. Fear and God see a return to Lamar’s scathing, political style as heard on previous albums, before closer Duckworth – another 70’s funk-inspired track – signs the rapper off at his most compelling.
There are lots of interesting ideas, but much of it lacks cohesion.
While Damn is leaps and bounds ahead of Drake’s recent effort, it ultimately sounds like a man broken, rather than standing up to fight.