Lamar rewarded for risks on album

Damn

Damn

Terrin Bates and Terrin Bates

Kendrick Lamar became the most important MC in hip-hop with 2015’s “To Pimp a Butterfly.” With its jazz and funk influences and politically charged themes, it served as an essential listen, especially for the marginalized in America.

The arrival of the Compton native’s fourth LP, “DAMN.” was highly anticipated, and Lamar delivered the goods.

The album is a personal statement of highs and lows, a reflection of his past and present.

“DAMN.” is more straightforward and mellow than its predecessor, but the sharp tongue and potent storytelling are still there.

On this LP, Lamar takes more risks than ever before.

First, there’s the laidback groove of “LOVE.” Lamar has never done a love ballad before, but this track works.

It has a lush R&B vibe and features a melodic hook from upcoming singer Zacari.

Now let’s discuss the epic “XXX.” It sounds like three different songs in one four-minute track.

It jumps from trap to indie rock, with rock icons U2 laying down some smooth vocals and instrumentation towards the end.

The other major collaboration on the album is with Rihanna on “LOYALTY.” While the song is catchy and features ‘Bad Gal RiRi’ flexing her rap skills, it definitely is one of the weaker songs on the album.

It’s not terrible, but it’s just an underwhelming banger.

Speaking of bangers, “DAMN.” is chuck full of them.

“DNA.” is boastful, energetic and bound to be played on radio and in clubs.

Lead single “HUMBLE.” is still ringing in our ears, partly thanks to that piano riff.

But Lamar isn’t looking to get radio hits or streams. Like many wise artists eventually do, he is bearing his soul.

On this album, he’s talking about the dark side of fame, his relationship with God and how he won’t let racism affect his mindset. He’s grappling with demons that are still there.

If anything, “DAMN.” only further demonstrates what a true artist Lamar is. He is not just a hip-hop king anymore. This is one of the decade’s greatest artists.