Critically acclaimed rapper, Kendrick Lamar, dropped his fourth studio album, DAMN., on Good Friday (April 14th). The body of work manifested is the fourth chapter of Lamar’s Life Manifesto, consisting of proverbs and expressions in the raw that can most certainly provide a guiding lamp unto the path of those who are Woke™.
Lamar explores the cultural politics of the physical world and the spiritual lessons and universal principals of the non-physical world. While on the planet in human incarnation he channels his higher self through his artistic capabilities.
A preacher, a prophet and a human being, Lamar raps his life narrative as he discovers his personal legend. Every chapter of his story allows us to penetrate deep into the lessons of life. Each episode is a reflection upon Lamar’s individual experiences with “LOYALTY.” (“PRIDE.”) humility (“HUMBLE.”), “LUST.”, genetics (“DNA.”), “GOD.,” “BLOOD.,” frequencies (“ELEMENTS.”), emotions (“FEELINGS.”), disdain (“YAH.”), and destiny (“DUCKWORTH.”) As with past albums, Lamar remains an unapologetically black man from Compton with all the dogged determination and the rich tapestry of experiences, (good and bad) that entails. DAMN. serves as an emotional inventory of what’s spiritually left after pursuing a dream and traversing the landmines of fuckery that Hollywood produces and thrives on. But Lamar’s latest work is as much an ode to perseverance as it is to self-care, the invisible work. The most glaring example of this is the track HUMBLE. It’s garnered equal amounts praise and criticism for tackling issues of black women’s body image, an already sensitive and volatile subject. Whether or not you believe the song was a sincere attempt to battle misogynoir or a gentler, more palatable way of commodifying black women’s bodies, the intent was ostensibly to create space for Others (black women) to breathe and exist as is. And that’s why we listen to rap for fun, for healing, for getting pumped for that grueling workout you foolishly planned. It extols the individual in their struggle and flaws but inspires us to fight for a reality made up of the qualities and values of the world our spirits inhabit. And despite the challenges presented by this reality, Lamar radically challenges us to seek our own versions of authentic creative expression and alignment within the universe.
The 14 track LP, “DAMN.” provides an intimate and spiritually powerful examination of Lamar’s evolution as an enlightened being. It is the soulful soundtrack of life in America from the perspective of a hyper-connected King with the straight up mystical ability to disconnect from that very same world. It’s a dynamic balancing act that allows Lamar to be in the world for the sake of reaching the masses without being snared to the point of total consumption and soul eruption. It’s not obvious to most, but only a few need to fully grasp it so that they too might transform from the inside out and in doing so, transform others.
And take a minute to check out Lamar’s music video: “Humble”.
Click here to review a guide to understanding the album’s producers, songwriters, guests and key themes created by Rolling Stone.