DAMN. Kendrick has done it again.
After albums like To Pimp A Butterfly, good kid m.A.A.d city and the more recent Untitled Unmastered from 2016, which have already changed the rap game for good, it felt like there wasn't much Kendrick Lamar (or anyone, really) could do to raise the bar even higher.
Then DAMN. happened, and once again Kendrick Lamar left us speechless - because that's what he does via his meticulously crafted lyrics, so politically charged and brutally honest, coming straight from the heart of a young man who's trying to bring his hometown Compton to the spotlight, but not the 'glamourised' one fetishized by some - he's narrating the true vision of all that comes with being from that LA neighbourhood ("I don't do it for the 'Gram, I do it for Compton!" - Element) and what it means to be an African-American from Compton in 2017, with all its consequences.
It's no surprise that Kendrick has become a symbol ('Alright' was being chanted by protestors all over the world) not only for those fans who actually grew up at the same time as him, going through the same struggles and issues at similar ages, but also for everyone else who genuinely and truly appreciates rap. DAMN. has some many layers to it, and every listen provides new glimpses into Kendrick's mind(s), and what makes it so approachable is that one can decide how deep to go into it, because Kendrick doesn't have time to diss other rappers anymore or tell fans how to listen to his music - he is putting it out there, how he wants it, when he wants, with who he wants to (DAMN. contains collabs with U2 and Rihanna, but no sign of Top Dawg Entertainment fellow rappers) - ultimately just saying what matters to him.
Kendrick is leading this new movement of punk-resembling hip-hop in a similar way as NWA did back in '88 with F*** Tha Police - exactly what the rap scene needs, or any scene really: a relatable and honest artist that is being listened to, and that can cause a strong cultural impact and motivate the masses to stand up and speak out in moments of tension and political instability, where police brutality is a daily reoccurrence.
DAMN. is the ultimate proof of K-Dot's storytelling ability, taking the listener seamlessly through a series of 'chapters'/emotions (LUST., LOVE., PRIDE.) that seem a surgical breakdown of his very busy mind - it can't be easy to be in Kendrick Lamar's head, but DAMN, he made us feel so part of it that we'll have goosebumps - permanently.