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Apr 05 2024 | Hip-Hop

Damn (Kendrick Lamar album)

Damn (Kendrick Lamar album)
Hip Hop, Conscious RAP
Release date
August 14 2017
Kendrick Lamar
Damn (Kendrick Lamar album)
August 14 2017 | Hip Hop, Conscious RAP

Damn (stylized as DAMN.) is the fourth studio album by American rapper Kendrick Lamar. It was released on April 14, 2017, by Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records. The album features production from a variety of record producers, including executive producer from the Top Dawg Entertainment label-head Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, Sounwave, DJ Dahi, Mike Will Made It and Ricci Riera; as well as production contributions from James Blake, Steve Lacy, BadBadNotGood, Greg Kurstin, The Alchemist and 9th Wonder, among others.
Damn received widespread critical acclaim and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, earning Lamar his third consecutive number-one album in the United States. The album was supported by three singles: “Humble”, “DNA” and “Loyalty” featuring Rihanna. In July 2017, Damn was certified Double Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Recording and production
Lamar stated that he wrote most of Damn in his mother’s kitchen. “DNA” was the second song from the album to be recorded by Lamar and Mike Will, after “Humble”. After the first verse was recorded with the beat that Mike Will had already prepared, Lamar started rapping the second verse a cappella, requesting that Mike Will build the beat around the rap. Lamar proposed that it sound like “chaos”, and Mike Will put together the second half of the song with the intention to make it “sound like he’s battling the beat.”
The beat for “Humble” was developed by Mike Will with the intention of recording with Gucci Mane, but later showed it to Lamar, thinking that this would be the first time Lamar had recorded with a trap-style beat that Mike Will had been known for. After recording, it was initially agreed upon that it would be released on Mike Will’s debut album Ransom 2, but others convinced Lamar to keep it for his own next album.

Damn has been characterized as conscious rap with elements of trap,R&B and pop.

Artwork and title
On April 11, 2017, Lamar revealed the cover artwork for Damn. The album cover was designed by Vlad Sepetov, who created the album covers for Lamar’s last two projects – To Pimp a Butterfly and Untitled Unmastered. Sepetov described Damn’s cover as “loud and abrasive” and “not uber political like To Pimp a Butterfly but it has energy”. Sepetov goes on to say the decision to put the Parental Advisory sticker in its unconventional position was so it could be a part of the design instead of an “afterthought”. Upon its reveal, the album art for Damn inspired many Internet memes.
In a radio interview on June 29, 2017, Lamar revealed the original title for the album was going to be What Happens on Earth Stays on Earth, but eventually settled on Damn. He stated the working title “didn’t read right”. Lamar went on to say about its final title, “There was so many different ways you could put it in my head. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. The loudness of the record. When I think about “DNA”, when I think of “Humble”, when I think these records, it just felt like that.”

Release and promotion
On March 23, 2017, Lamar released a promotional single, “The Heart Part 4″, which contained lyrics hinting at a possible April 7 release date for his fourth studio album. On April 7, 2017, the album was made available for pre-order and confirmed to be released on April 14. On April 11, Lamar revealed the track listing for Damn.

On March 30, 2017, Lamar released the album’s lead single, “Humble”, accompanied by a music video. It reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the Canadian Hot 100 chart.
The music video for the song, “DNA”, was released on April 18, 2017. It was later released to rhythmic contemporary radio on May 30, 2017, as the album’s second single. The song entered at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Lamar’s second highest-charting song as a solo artist after “Humble”.
“Loyalty” featuring Rihanna, was released as the album’s third single on June 20, 2017, to rhythmic and urban contemporary radio.

Critical reception
Damn received widespread acclaim from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 95, based on 38 reviews. Andy Kellman of AllMusic stated that “It contains some of Lamar’s best writing and performances, revealing his evolving complexity and versatility as a soul-baring lyricist and dynamic rapper.”[ Christopher R. Weingarten, an author for Rolling Stone, said, “Much like the recent A Tribe Called Quest record, Damn. is a brilliant combination of the timeless and the modern, the old school and the next-level. The most gifted rapper of a generation stomps into the Nineties and continues to blaze a trail forward.” Writing for The A.V. Club, Evan Rytlewski concluded, “Lamar trusts every idea to stand on its own. When you’re making art this substantial, vital, and virtuosic, there’s no need to wrap a tidy bow around it.” In his review, Greg Kot of Chicago Tribute states, “Damn. strips down the rhythms to their essence, flavored with the occasional cameo (notably Rihanna and U2). Lamar’s voice does most of the heavy lifting, playing multiple roles and characters. His supple singing complements a variety of rap tones and textures.”
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian wrote: “If it seems a more straightforward listen than To Pimp a Butterfly, there’s a cheering sense that this doesn’t equate to a lessening of musical ambition. There’s none of that album’s wilfully jarring quality – its sudden, anxious musical lurches and abrupt, short-circuiting leaps between genres – but the tracks on Damn still feel episodic and expansive. Whether Damn will have the same epochal impact as To Pimp a Butterfly remains to be seen, but either way it sounds like the work of a supremely confident artist at the top of his game.” Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph stating that Damn “is the work of a future all-time great in full command of his powers.” In Pitchfork’s review of Damn, Matthew Trammell writes Damn “is a widescreen masterpiece of rap, full of expensive beats, furious rhymes, and peerless storytelling about Kendrick’s destiny in America.” In a mixed review, A. Harmony of Exclaim! wrote that Damn “is the first time in Lamar’s career that he hasn’t broken new ground, explored old themes in new ways or exhibited sonic growth.” Pitchfork gave songs “Humble”, “Fear” and “DNA” the title of “Best New Track”.

Commercial performance
In the United States, Damn debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 603,000 album-equivalent units in its first week of release. It sold 353,000 copies in its debut week and accumulated over 340 million streams. The album remained at the top of the US charts for the next several weeks. As of July 5, 2017, the album has sold 678,000 copies and 1,772,000 album-equivalent units in the United States. On July 10, 2017, Damn was certified Double Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for combined sales, streaming and track-sales equivalent of two million units.
In the United Kingdom, Damn sold 30,000 units in its first week and debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart.

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