Well, it happened you guys: Kendrick Lamar’s fourth album DAMN. finally arrived.
After hearing back-to-back strong performances on “The Heart Pt. 4” and “HUMBLE,” I was understandably expecting some of Kendrick’s most aggressive material to date, and DAMN. did not disappoint. Not one bit.
After a shocking twist in the album’s intro "BLOOD.," an audio clip from a Fox News segment criticizing Kendrick’s “Alright” hook gives way to the album’s first proper track, “DNA,” and, wow.
Holy shit this song is hard.
Like, “Steven Segal coated in a thick layer of wurtzite boron nitride” hard. In case you’re wondering, yes, I had to Google “hardest material on earth” to get that description right.
I honestly don’t even know where to start with this track. Wait, yes I do: that fucking beat. Good God, that beat. Mike WiLL Made-It has crafted a dizzying number of bangers throughout his career, but this is quite possibly the rawest, most bangin’-beat that has ever flowed from Mike Will’s creative fingertips.
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The beat is carried by what sounds like some sort of ancient sitar riff, backed by the hardest hitting bass I think I’ve ever heard. I thought Mike WiLL’s beat for “HUMBLE” was dirty—which it is—but this is absolutely disgusting.
Then, you know, there’s also Kendrick’s hyper-aggressive, top-of-the-fucking-world performance on the track. As the title suggests, Kendrick’s lyrics focus is on his Black Israelite heritage, which evokes powerful imagery of both the good and evil inside him.
I couldn't possibly do his opening verse justice in written form, but just know that it’s filled with lines like this:
"I was born like this, since one like this, immaculate conception / I transform like this, perform like this / Was Yeshua's new weapon / I don’t contemplate, I meditate, then off your fucking head"
So yeah, it’s safe to say this is Kendrick in full-blown braggadocio mode, and I’m here for all of three minutes and five seconds of it. Contemplative, introspective Kenny is fantastic but there’s nothing like a swift reminder that Kendrick is indeed one of the most deadly emcees of all time, and this first verse leaves no question.
But then—yes, there's more!
Halfway through the track, there’s a beat switch, marked by yet another disingenuous-as-hell Fox News clip, and on the other side of it? Oh, my God. Mike WiLL’s beat drops out and reaches magnitudes of head-bobbery that my neck wasn’t even sure existed.
Kendrick’s aggression ramps up to Yeezus levels with the beat switch, spraying unrelenting lyrical bullets through the thick fog of the instrumental. I truly don’t even understand how he was able to continue breathing through the end of the song, but we’re not talking about your average auditory nut-grab, mind you.
No, we’re talking about King Kendrick, and on “DNA,” that title has never been more fitting—or more threatening to anyone hoping to claim the title of “greatest” anytime soon.