To be great in hip hop is not an easy thing. It takes work, years of working your way up the proverbial totem pole and usually is confirmed with a great album.
The Compton California native has done all of that in short order, a little over a decade to be precise and several really good albums but his third studio album “Damn” that released this past Friday makes you say just that.
Think of the albums you know of, any genre, anytime that you can play all the way through and a few of those songs make you shake your head, leave your mouth open and make you make you play it again and again.
Every song is worth your time and we are talking about full length studio albums, not EP’s (extended plays), or mix tapes or anything short of that.
Nothing against local hip hop star Chance the Rapper, he is legit and has gone about greatness in his own way, including being a philanthropist and activist.
I mean someone who has taken the next step to join hip hop royalty.
30 years ago I sat on my parents porch in West Pullman on 123rd Street and listened to LL Cool J’s tape of “Bigger and Deffer”. That album changed my life, my thoughts on hip hop and to this day is one of my favorite albums.
You can play it through every song, it rocks, it makes sense, its funny and it still sounds goods today.
Eric B & Rakim’s “Follow the Leader” came out the next year in 1988, same thing.
in 1992 DR. Dre’s “The Chronic”, reached that level.
See a pattern here?
Hip hop can be so trendy and not seem more than skin deep but every once in a while you get a production so dope, so well put together. It hits all the notes literally, socially, it speaks to the streets from the streets and it speaks to you, where ever you are, who ever you are.
That’s what “Damn” is.
I texted every hip hop fan I know and told them they needed to listen to this, half of them already beat me to it and had favorite songs.
And even though Kendrick may be fairly new, his style is making an impact.
Already he has people enlisting his style, there’s a new young hip hop guy out from Atlanta named Deante Hitchcock (thanks Tiffany), who is creative, really good, intellectually and passionately deep and making his name out there too.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery right?
But this album just draws the line in the sand and shows what Kendrick and his masterful production team can do and go above and beyond everyone else.
Its been done before by other artists at different times.
Before Kanye West turned Kardashian he was on this level, “The College Dropout” was that album in 2003-04, this very style of changing beats in mid song is something he owned and then fame owned him.
Lil Wayne was as creative with his rhymes and prolific as any hip hop artist I ever saw in 35 years of following this genre and “The Carter III”, attained these heights.
I don’t give out hip hop honors often and don’t follow the latest in the genre like I used to but when you hear greatness you must recognize it.
I warn you “Damn” is not for children or anyone sensitive to harsh language, its hardcore hip hop at its finest.
Not gangsta rap, just the best that the streets deliver and some of the best west coast rap you’ll ever hear.
I mean look at the album’s title and by the second song (“DNA”, my fave), you’ll see that title is appropriate and you’ll say it too.
Filed under: African American History