It's been two weeks since the release of "DAMN" and everyone's still talking about it. Kendrick Lamar's on his second week at number one on Billboard and even Drake is raining praise on him for skyrocketing album sales. From Instagram models to college students, Lamar's lyrics have been pasted everywhere — but let's take a more in depth look at his most popular songs after the hype.
The introduction to the album is only two minutes long — but brims with references to police brutality and lost identity. The first three questions refer to the theme of his album — wickedness and weakness. Basically, he's putting it out there for his fans to decide which one he is. But also, apparently, if they will live or die with him? This part becomes more evident in the next verse where he describes an encounter with an old woman who seemingly kills him, taking away the choice from his fans.
Perhaps this is Kendrick already starting to comment on police brutality with the taking away of choice and the immediate next segment of a Fox News reporter criticizing his lyrics. Tying in with the name "BLOOD." Kendrick mixes the different sides of his personality with the ongoing events of racism and police brutality to create a meaningful and thought-provoking intro to his album.
This next track is a common favorite and rightly so — it's a powerful piece to follow such an ambiguous and clearly opinionated intro. Like the title implies, this track is about Kendrick's race and background, referencing all the "power, poison, pain and joy" from his past. However with these hardships comes qualities like "loyalty" and "royalty" — something Kendrick is very proud of.
Kendrick then throws even more shade at Fox News with the bridge in which he samples them again – basically a big 'fuck you' to those who criticize rap music on grounds of racism. His past is then contradicted with his present filled with riches and success in the next verse. He boasts about diamonds and marble along with his Grammys and vacations. With contradictions among contradictions, Kendrick shows the multifaceted quality to his life.
Again, we see the wicked vs weakness theme in the video intro to "HUMBLE." which further enables the listener to make the conscious choice for themselves on Kendrick himself. The track itself is aggressive and anything but humble. Instead, Kendrick's really just telling his competition to humble themselves because he's better.
A key line in this track is his reference to Photoshop and the media's portrayal of women as perfect entities. Although some women praise this like, others are kind of skeptical. It's really just another instance where men are directing women on how to dress and act. Instead of challenging these views, he only encourages it in a different direction
Anyways, whichever way you view the album doesn't really matter. Kendrick just wants you to have some opinion on it — good or bad. So, next time you listen to the album all the way through, pay attention to some of the lyrics instead of the sick ass beat — your English teacher would be proud.