I Can't Call It: Damn - Kendrick Lamar

Posted On Monday, April 17, 2017

I'm old. The summer of 1992, my hood in Philly was so crazy I remember praying to God to just let me live long enough to get to college so my moms could say she had a son who made it to college. My prayer wasn't even to live long enough to graduate from college, it was just to let me get there. So for me to have made it to see 43 years old, is truly a blessing. But the problem with getting old is sometimes you lose touch. Now don't get it twisted for the past 18 years I've been working with at risk youth in SE Washington DC & I'm told everyday in every hood that I'm the coolest "old person" they know. But when it comes to some of this new music that's dropping that "breaks the internet", yeah that just helps me to realize I'm still old. In fact the last time I heard something that was worthy of REALLY breaking the internet was in December of 2009 when I heard Jay Electronica's "Exhibit C." Now THAT was worthy of breaking the internet. The beat was CRAZY, the rhymes were CRAZY, hell I even liked Just Blaze rambling on about nothing at the end. So for me, when something "breaks the internet" it better be up there with "Exhibit C." And I'm sorry ya'll but K Dot's "Humble" ain't that.

When "Humble" first dropped I didn't wanna listen to it. I remembered listening to "King Kunta" when it dropped and I wasn't feeling it but then when "TPAB" dropped it felt like it fit the concept of the album so I didn't wanna make the same mistake twice and listen to anything from K Dot until I could listen to the entire album. Then eventually word got to ear that "Humble" wasn't going to be on the album (but of course it did) so I figured let me join in on all the hype and take a listen. The problem was I couldn't join in on all of the hype cause "Humble" didn't deserve all of the hype. I mean, the song was cool but THIS is what broke the internet? THIS is what brodied (Philly slang for bullying) it's way into being the soundtrack to the NBA playoffs? Word?!?!?! Now I'm not gonna hold you, the song is dope but come on ya'll...this ain't "break the internet/scratch whatever song we were gonna use for the NBA playoffs" dope. But in the climate of hip hop in 2017 I guess it is. So while everyone in the universe is praising "Damn" for being the masterful masterpiece of what every MC should use as the blueprint to breath and folk are reviewing it literally 3.8 seconds after it dropped AND publications have over 10-12 articles writing on how if you play "Damn" backwards you can get North Korea's nuclear codes, sit on back and get a true hip hop consisour's two cent on if "Damn" is really that life changing.

Aiight...so let's start from the beginning at the top of the list like P said, first things first this album cover is wack. No excuses...it's just wack. Let's just get that out the way first and foremost. And before ya'll post 90's babies start crying about what does the artwork have to do with anything, see I came up in an era where you album art was damn near just as important as the music on the album but that's just me being old I guess. "Damn" sets off with "Blood" which has K Dot telling a story about him being a good samaritan and helping a blind woman only to be shot. The Mike Will Made It produced "DNA" bangs but riddle me this...just because something bangs...does that make it dope? Just something to think about cause I think a lot of folk get those two things mixed up. But neither here no there cause "DNA" is DOPE and has K Dot doing K Dot and blacking the fuck out and reminds me of "GKMC" "Backseat Freestyle", "Yah" and "Element" are both cool with the latter having K Dot breaking down how if he has to slap a pussy ass nigga, that he's gonna make it look sexy. (?) "Feel" brings the soul to the production of the album that I've been missing for the first three songs and has K Dot breaking down everything that's weighing him down, "I feel heartless often off this, feeling of fallin of fallin apart with/darkest hours lost it/fillin' the void of being employed with ballin/streets is talking fill in the blanks with coffins/fill up the banks with dollars, fill up the graves with fathers, fill up the babies with bullshit/internet blogs and pulpit, fill 'em with gossip, I feel like this gotta be the feelin' what Pac was." "Pride" is cool and we've already chopped it up about "Humble" the Badbadnotgood (?) produced "Lust" has K Dot "just wanting to put the head in cause he respects the cat" and is the song that if you play backwards will give you the winning lottery numbers to the powerball along with those North Korea nuclear codes if you want 'em and "Love" has K Dot on his '88 jawn with his hip hop love song featuring somebody who sounds just like The Dream but isn't the Dream. (?)

"XXX" featuring U2 according to the internet was already a 5 mic classic before anyone even heard it (?) I'm assuming because it featured U2 which leaves me wondering when did a U2 feature get you 5 mics in hip hop? The first part of the song I just don't get it, the second part of the song reminds me of "GKMC" "M.A.D.D. City" and the 3rd part of the song that finally features U2 is actually solid but couldn't we have just got rid of the first 2 parts? Nah? Aiight. The Alchemist produced "Fear" is extremely DOPE and has K Dot looking at the numerous things that has put fear in his heart from day one to present day, "I'll prolly die anonymous, I'll prolly die with promises/I'll prolly die walking back from the candy house, I'll prolly die because these colors are standing out/I'll prolly die because I ain't know Demarcus was snitchin', I'll die at these house parties fuckin' with bitches/I'll prolly die from witnesses leaving me falsed accused, I'll prolly die from thinking that me and your hood was cool. "God" is dope and you'd be hard pressed to find a doper way to end an album then with the 9th produced "Duckworth" that has K Dot breaking down a story of how Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith the CEO of K Dot's label almost killed K Dot's father Ducky back in the day. But as dope as "Duckworth" is my fave track on "Damn" is EASILY "Loyalty" featuring Rihanna. This is the jawn that has stayed on repeat the most off this album and it's the one song I can't get enough of. Not to mention Rihanna sounds like she's ready to throw her name in the ring as the best female MC. Don't get it twisted, I know she didn't write her rhymes but she sounds dope spittin' and nobody can front on that.

My man Bos always gets on me for being the old man on the block yelling at the kids to get off my lawn and guess what? That is me. And the dopest thing is, I'm fine with it. Why? Cause those damn kids don't need to be on my lawn! Especially after I just got finished spending $100+ at Lowes for grass seed and fertilizer and after I just got finished cutting it AND planting new flowers! Those damn kids better stay off my lawn! Now, what does that have to do with hip hop? Well, I feel like every time an old head isn't head over heels in love with a new MC or just doens't get "it" we're looked at as being "dinosaurs" and that we need to get with the times. Well, first things first, I don't have to get with shit. Especially if it's wack. Now don't get it twisted, that's not how I feel about K Dot in any sense of those words cause he's EASILY one of my fave MC's on the block. "GKMC" and "TPAB" both got 5 mics from me and there's nothing doper then a regular everyday humbled dude being the king of hip hop. But this go round K Dot & Kid Capri just don't do it for me in the realms of dropping another 5 mic classic like the rest of the internet is claiming it is. Which is cool...cause everything that drops isn't gonna be a classic and speak to everybody. "Damn" reminds me of how I would feel when I'd be in church on Sunday and the message just didn't resonate with me. But since I saw other folk around me being blessed by it, I wasn't mad. And that's how I feel about "Damn." Because as long as everyone else is loving it and it's helping to put hip hop is in an even doper place, then forget about me and my two cents cause I'm good money seeing other folk be blessed.

4 outta 5 mics


  1. I'm feeling you on this bro...good but not great!

  2. Interesting take. You seem to fall somewhere along the spectrum the Needle Drop has. I feel I actually like the album more for its contradictions because as a mostly atheistic person you usually get "love god, love god, love god" from artists with that message, without the nuance. Cool review.


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