I got, I got, I got, I got stumped during the first listen itself and I was traveling in a crowded Delhi metro. The stories Kendrick tells on this one captivates you, captures your imagination to the extent that the crowd of a metro doesn’t really exist for you. Take a note, this isn’t a “Butterfly” or a “GKMC”, this is Kendrick Lamar Duckworth’s own piece of work about himself and his perception. Perception is a very important concept of the album. A lot of it is open to perception for the listener. Kendrick doesn’t really force all the issues on you but gives a personal opinion on them.
Another concept or should I have said feature of this album is the inconsistency. Not only we see it in the tracklist, we see it in the placing of beats, his choice of flows and topics throughout the album. The first take away after the first listen I had (like many would have had) was how he completes the circle with the end of the song “DUCKWORTH” and his first lines on “BLOOD”. Definitely a goosebump inducing moment. The album shines in many such subtleties, nooks and corners that keep one hooked till a really good number of listens.
There are points that reminisce me of his previous work like his “need for water” on “LUST” takes me back to “Sing about me, Dying of thirst” from “GKMC” even though his thirst atleast on the face value is for something very different. Other than such simple points its a very different album with a very different sound. The beats here are served to us by a very interesting range of producers that give the album it’s Sonic appeal and structure. We have Kendrick’s frequent producer Sounwave on a number of tracks, Mike Will Made It on “DNA”, “HUMBLE” and “XXX”, DJ dahi, The Alchemist, Bekon among others. The Sonic structure of this one not at all clearly defined and consistent which is very unlike his previous works. But it’s in these inconsistencies that this one revels as a experience. The energy in beats like the ones in “DNA” make for a really lovely experience. The features are less but all leave their Mark on the album. Rihanna for me was the better part of the song on “LOYALTY” which to me is one of the weaker tracks on this one. Bono plays a very interesting part on the ever changing, aggressive and brooding “XXX” on which Kendrick goes into various cadences to express his emotions which range from a threat “Let somebody touch my mama, touch my sister, touch my woman, touch my daddy, touch my niece, touch my nephew, touch my niece” or “I’ll chip a nigga little bitbof nothing” to concerned and reflective “The great American flag, is wrapped and dragged with explosives”.
He is also insecure on this one, accepting his shortcomings. On “FEAR” he takes us through his mind and how he was afraid of various things and also of his perception in the society. This track comes out as a stand out moment in an already outstanding project. This opens us to Kendrick’s world like some of his best tracks have. Storytelling is the strong point of this album. Storytelling is the aspect that makes this album a memorable project.
Yes, this album has some moments which might not be as outstanding or a bit of lull. I am talking about “LUST”, “LOVE” and “LOYALTY”. The 3 Ls this album takes. Well the tracks aren’t bad. I just felt Kendrick could have added more on the topic Menton the tracks. Other thing that takes a little back from the album is his singing on some places for example on “GOD”. At other points this album shocks you, gives you chill out tracks, bangers, stories you never expected to hear and all this by creating a commendable listening experience.
It’s tracks like “DNA” that we will remember this for where he points out everything from his strengths to shortcomings as part of his “DNA” for tracks like “FEAR” and most importantly for “DUCKWORTH”, the closing track that ends up defining the album and makes us familiar with a new chapter of Kendrick’s life. After all it’s his experiences that gave him the fire to come out as probably the greatest rapper of this generation. He has nothing left to prove. Not at all. After the projects he has released till now he has a firm grip on the throne. He even sold 600k first week.
Overall this is a very strong album, an experience to behold. It might end up being the best album of the year and is surely going to be a highlight of the year when we come to the end of this year.
“I was taking a walk the other day”