According to Matt Koelling: “His best work, and by extension, the first bona fide classic album of 2017. Its fourteen tracks make for a considerably leaner, tauter, funk-driven affair than 2015’s sprawling, free-jazz-and-spoken-word-informed, critically lauded To Pimp a Butterfly. In terms of running time, it splits the difference between last year’s 34-minute placeholder EP, untitled unmastered., and Butterfly’s near-80-minute opus. DAMN. benefits from this conciseness, as well as its repeated call backs to central thematic tropes throughout the album, with the sublime surprise of legendary DJ Kid Capri co-hosting the proceedings like a classic mixtape from his salad days during the 1990s.
If forced to pick one supreme standout, I’ll go with “GOD.” It begins with a Sounwave wave that washes over you celestially, then comes crashing in as the drums drop while Kendrick belts “This what GOD feel like! Laughing to the bank like ‘aaaah-haaaa.’” It’s an inspired bit of absurdist imagery that’s tough not to love. Call it a “Man Makes Plans, God Laughs” anthem. And since old-soul Kung Fu Kenny’s willing to reference the 1993 film The Five Heartbeats with the “Work It, JT” tagline, plus El DeBarge’s finger-waves, can we assume he’s also quoting Richie Valens’ alcoholic brother Bob in 1987’s La Bamba when he proclaims “I won, man?” This reviewer votes yes. Either way, the listeners of DAMN. have been blessed.”
VIEW album index here