Kendrick Lamar Began Conceptualizing ‘DAMN.’ During ‘TPAB’ Sessions

“Kendrick first approached me about this particular project in the middle of ‘To Pimp A Butterfly.’”
Kendrick Lamar DAMN. artwork

In a newly-published interview with The FADER, producer Terrace Martin, who along with Sounwave is one of only two producers to earn credits on all five of Kendrick Lamar’s albums, provided a detailed account of the ‘who what where when why and how’ behind “LOYALTY.,” the Rihanna-assisted track off the emcee’s newly-released, critically-acclaimed album DAMN.

The entire “LOYALTY.” backstory is highly entertaining, especially the part wherein Kendrick accurately predicts Rihanna would be on the final version of the record, but the most noteworthy nugget sits on the timeline of the song's creation.

According to Martin, Kendrick began to conceptualize what would become DAMN. while he was in the middle of recording his GRAMMY-winning To Pimp a Butterfly album.

“Kendrick first approached me about this particular project in the middle of To Pimp A Butterfly. Because we were already saying like, ‘Yo, you know we are trying to do what we didn't do before.’ So we knew that the more extreme we went on Butterfly — musically and using influences from different genres of older music — that he was gonna use a different, opposite energy for the next record.” —Terrace Martin

That’s right. While countless Kendrick die-hards were freaking out—which is something they do quite often—about him making an album rooted in jazz and funk, the greatest emcee of his generation was already busy plotting his next moves for the follow-up that would arrive 25 months later. 

DAMN. feels like now—it gets into your heart, but it feels like the future, man,” Martin said. 

Considering the song was birthed in 2015 and released in 2017, that might be the most accurate explanation.