Damn (Kendrick Lamar album)

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Damn
Kendrick Lamar - Damn.png
Studio album by Kendrick Lamar
Released April 14, 2017 (2017-04-14)
Recorded 2016–2017
Studio
Genre
Length 54:54
Label
Producer
Kendrick Lamar chronology
Untitled Unmastered
(2016)
Damn
(2017)
Black Panther: The Album
(2018)
Singles from Damn
  1. "Humble"
    Released: March 30, 2017
  2. "Loyalty"
    Released: June 20, 2017
  3. "Love"
    Released: October 2, 2017
Collectors Edition cover
Collectors Edition cover

Damn (stylized as DAMN.) is the fourth studio album by American rapper Kendrick Lamar.[1] It was released on April 14, 2017, by Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records.[2] The album features production from a variety of record producers, including executive producer and Top Dawg Entertainment label-head Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith, Sounwave, DJ Dahi, Mike Will Made It and Ricci Riera; as well as further production contributions from James Blake, Steve Lacy, BadBadNotGood, Greg Kurstin, The Alchemist and 9th Wonder, among others. Damn features appearances from singers Rihanna and Top Dawg signee Zacari, along with Irish rock band U2.

Damn received widespread critical acclaim and topped the charts in the United States and Canada while reaching number two in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The album was supported by three official singles: "Humble", "Loyalty" and "Love", the first of which became Lamar's first number-one single on the US Billboard Hot 100 as a lead artist. Damn was certified triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in May 2018 and was also the Billboard Year-End number one album of 2017.[3] It was nominated for Album of the Year and won Best Rap Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.[4] The album also won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music, making it the first non-jazz or classical work to earn the accolade.[5]

Recording and production[edit]

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.[6]

"DNA" was the second song from the album to be recorded by Lamar and Mike Will, after "Humble". After the first verse of "DNA" 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."[6]

Lamar has said in interviews that the ability to play the album in reverse tracklist order was "premeditated [...] in the studio": "It plays as a full story and even a better rhythm. It's one of my favorite rhythms and tempos within the album."[7]

Musical style[edit]

Damn has been characterized as conscious rap[8] with elements of trap,[9][10][11] R&B[11][12] and pop.[11]

Artwork and title[edit]

On April 11, 2017, Lamar revealed the cover artwork for Damn.[13][14] 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".[15] 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".[15]

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".[16] 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."[16]

Release and promotion[edit]

Lamar on The Damn Tour in 2017.

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.[17] On April 7, 2017, the album was made available for pre-order and confirmed to be released on April 14.[18][19] On April 11, Lamar revealed the track listing for Damn.[13][14]

On December 8, 2017, Lamar released the Collectors Edition of the album. The album is the same musically, but has a reversed track order and new artwork.[20][21]

Singles[edit]

On March 30, 2017, Lamar released the album's lead single, "Humble", accompanied by a music video.[22][23] It reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the Canadian Hot 100 chart.[24][25] "Loyalty" featuring Rihanna, was released as the album's second single on June 20, 2017, to rhythmic and urban contemporary radio.[26][27] The song peaked at number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[28] "Love" featuring Zacari, was released as the album's third single on October 2, 2017, to rhythmic contemporary radio.[29] It was released to contemporary hit radio on November 21, 2017.[30] The song peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[28]

Other songs[edit]

The music video for the song, "DNA", was released on April 18, 2017.[31] 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".[28]

The music video for the song, "Element", was released on June 27, 2017.[32] The song peaked at number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[28]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?9.1/10[33]
Metacritic95/100[34]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[35]
The A.V. ClubA[36]
Chicago Tribune3.5/4 stars[37]
The Daily Telegraph5/5 stars[38]
Entertainment WeeklyA[39]
The Guardian5/5 stars[40]
NME4/5 stars[41]
Pitchfork9.2/10[42]
Rolling Stone4.5/5 stars[43]
ViceA−[44]

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 39 reviews.[34] 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."[35] 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."[43] 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."[37] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times gave a positive review, stating "Tart and punchy.... Sometimes boisterous, sometimes swampy, rarely fanciful album—it's Mr. Lamar's version of the creeping paranoia that has become de rigueur for midcareer Drake. And yet this is likely Mr. Lamar's most jubilant album, the one in which his rhymes are the least tangled."[45] Eric Renner Brown of Entertainment Weekly said, "After delving into the personal on 2012's Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and going broader on Butterfly, Lamar has found a middle ground on Damn. that yields some of his most emotionally resonant music yet."[39]

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."[40] Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph stating that Damn "is the work of a future all-time great in full command of his powers."[38] Leonie Cooper of NME said, "Damn. is by far his shortest release to date – but the ideas, thoughts and feelings it contains are massive, weighty things, from sexual tension to deep, dark depression."[41] 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."[42] 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."[36] 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."[46]

Accolades[edit]

Damn has appeared on multiple year-end lists in 2017.

Publication Accolade Rank Ref.
The A.V. Club The A.V. Club's 20 Best Albums of 2017
1
BBC News The Top 10 Albums of 2017
1
Billboard Billboard's 50 Best Albums of 2017: Critics' Picks
1
Clash Clash Albums of the Year 2017
2
Complex The Best Albums of 2017
1
Consequence of Sound Top 50 Albums of 2017
2
Entertainment Weekly The 25 Best Albums of 2017
2
Exclaim! Exclaim!'s Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums
1
HipHopDX HipHopDX's Best Rap Albums Of 2017
1
The Independent The 30 Best Albums of 2017
7
The Irish Times Ticket Awards 2017: The Best Music of the Year
1
Loud and Quiet The Loud and Quiet Top 40 Albums of 2017
11
The Best Albums of 2017
14
The Best Albums of 2017
6
Newsweek
  • The 17 Best Albums of 2017:
  • Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and Other Favorites
6
NME NME's Albums of The Year 2017
3
Now The 10 Best Albums of 2017
1
NPR The 50 Best Albums of 2017
1
Paste The 50 Best Albums of 2017
2
Pitchfork The 50 Best Albums of 2017
1
PopMatters The 60 Best Albums of 2017
1
Rap-Up Rap-Up's 20 Best Albums of 2017
1
Rolling Stone 50 Best Albums of 2017
1
Rough Trade Albums of the Year
45
The Skinny The Skinny's Top 50 Albums of 2017
1
Slant Magazine The 25 Best Albums of 2017
1
Spin 50 Best Albums of 2017
1
Stereogum The 50 Best Albums of 2017
2
Time Top 10 Albums 2017: Reputation, DAMN., Melodrama
2
The Times 100 Best Albums of the Year
2
Variety The Best Albums of 2017 N/A
The Village Voice Pazz & Jop Music Critics' Poll
1
Vice The 100 Best Albums of 2017
2
Vulture The 10 Best Albums of 2017
1
The Wire Releases of the Year 1–50
41

Awards[edit]

Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2017 BET Hip Hop Awards Album of the Year Won [81]
Danish Music Awards International Album of the Year Won [82]
American Music Awards Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album Won [83]
Q Awards Best Album Nominated [84]
2018 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Album Won [85]
Grammy Awards Album of the Year Nominated [4]
Best Rap Album Won
Fonogram Awards Best Foreign Rap or Hip-Hop Album of the Year Won [86]
iHeartRadio Music Awards Hip-Hop Album of the Year Won [87]
Juno Awards International Album of the Year Won [88]
Pulitzer Prizes Pulitzer Prize for Music Won [5]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, Damn debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with 603,000 album-equivalent units in its first week of release, becoming his third consecutive album after To Pimp a Butterfly (2015) and Untitled Unmastered (2016) to reach the nation's summit. It sold 353,000 copies in its first week and accumulated over 340 million streams.[89] In its second week, the album remained at the top of the US charts with 238,000 album-equivalent units of which 87,000 were traditional album sales, bringing the sales to a total of 841,000 units.[90] In its third week, the album continued to top the charts with 173,000 album-equivalent units of which 57,000 were traditional album sales, bringing the sales to a total of 1.014 million units.[91] As of April 2018, Damn had sold 1,002,000 copies and earned 3,137,000 album-equivalent units in the US.[92] On May 10, 2018, the album was certified triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for combined sales, streaming and track-sales equivalent of three million units.[93] The album also opened atop the Canadian Albums Chart with 35,000 consumption units and 25.4 million streams, becoming the rapper's third consecutive album to arrive at number one.[94]

In the United Kingdom, Damn sold 30,000 units in its first week and entered at number two on the UK Albums Chart.[95]

According to IFPI, it was the seventh best selling album of 2017, with 1.3 million copies shipped globally.[96]

Track listing[edit]

Album credits adapted from official liner notes and XXL.[97][98]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Blood"
  • Bēkon
  • Top Dawg
1:58
2."DNA"Mike Will Made It3:05
3."Yah"
2:40
4."Element"
3:28
5."Feel"
  • Duckworth
  • Spears
Sounwave3:34
6."Loyalty" (featuring Rihanna)
3:47
7."Pride"
  • Lacy
  • Top Dawg
  • Bēkon[a]
4:35
8."Humble"
  • Duckworth
  • Williams II
  • Asheton Hogan
  • Mike Will Made It
  • Pluss[b]
2:57
9."Lust"
5:07
10."Love" (featuring Zacari)
  • Duckworth
  • Zacari Pacaldo
  • Teddy Walton
  • Spears
  • Greg Kurstin
  • Tiffith
  • Walton
  • Sounwave
  • Kurstin
  • Top Dawg
3:33
11."XXX" (featuring U2)
  • Mike Will Made It
  • DJ Dahi
  • Sounwave
  • Top Dawg
  • Bēkon[a]
4:14
12."Fear"
7:40
13."God"
  • Riera
  • Sounwave
  • DJ Dahi
  • Bēkon
  • Cardo
  • Top Dawg
  • Yung Exclusive[b]
4:08
14."Duckworth"4:08
Total length:54:54

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies an additional producer
  • ^[b] signifies an uncredited co-producer
  • ^[c] signifies a vocal producer
  • Every song is stylized in all capital letters, with a period at the end of their titles, including featured artist credits. For example, "Loyalty" is stylized as "LOYALTY. FEAT. RIHANNA."[100]
  • Some CD pressings of the album have slight differences: "Pride" runs for 4 minutes and 31 seconds (4:31), "Love" runs for 3 minutes and 31 seconds (3:31), and "Fear" runs for 6 minutes and 54 seconds (6:54), bringing the total album length to 54 minutes and 2 seconds (54:02). This version of the album also features slightly different mixing.[101]
  • "Blood", "Yah", "Pride" and "God" feature additional vocals by Bēkon
  • "Element" and "Love" feature additional vocals by Kid Capri
  • "Feel" features additional vocals by Chelsea Blythe
  • "Loyalty" features additional vocals by DJ Dahi
  • "Pride" features background vocals by Anna Wise and Steve Lacy
  • "Lust" features additional vocals by Kaytranada and Rat Boy
  • "XXX" and "Duckworth" feature additional vocals by Bēkon and Kid Capri
  • "Fear" features additional vocals by Charles Edward Sydney Isom Jr., Bēkon and Carl Duckworth

Sample credits

Personnel[edit]

Adapted from the album liner notes and AllMusic.[97][109]

  • 2Teez – TDE management
  • 9th Wonder – mixing ("Duckworth")
  • Anna Wise – additional vocals ("Pride")
  • Archie Davis – marketing
  • Ashley Palmer – general manager, Aftermath Entertainment
  • Alan "The Alchemist" Maman – producer ("Fear")
  • Bekon – additional vocals ("Blood", "Yah", "Pride", "XXX", "Fear", "God", "Duckworth")
  • Blake Harden – recording ("Lust", "Duckworth") at Windmark Studios
  • Brendan Silas Perry – additional recording ("Element", "Love", "Duckworth")
  • Brock Korsan – TDE A&R
  • Carl Duckworth – additional vocals ("Fear")
  • Charles Edward Sydney Isom Jr. – additional vocals ("Fear")
  • Chelsea Blythe – additional vocals ("Feel")
  • Cyrus Taghipour – mix assistant
  • DJ Dahi – additional vocals ("Loyalty")
  • Dave Free – associate producer, TDE management, creative direction, photography
  • David Harrell – management assistant
  • Derek "MixedByAli" Ali – mixing
  • Derrick McCall – management assistant
  • Don Robinson – international marketing
  • Dr. Dre – executive producer
  • Edgar Moreno – management assistant
  • Gary Kelly – sales
  • James Hunt – engineer, mixing ("Element")
  • Jason Kawejsza – business affairs
  • Joshua P. Binder, Esq. – legal
  • Jurgen Grubner – international marketing
  • Kam Sangha – production
  • Kamasi Washington – strings ("Lust")
  • Kaytranada – additional vocals ("Lust")
  • Kendrick Lamar – vocals; additional keys ("XXX"); TDE A&R; creative direction
  • Kid Capri – additional vocals ("Element", "Love", "XXX", "Duckworth")
  • Kuk Harrell – vocal production for Rihanna
  • Marcos Tovar – vocal recording for Rihanna (at Windmark Studios)
  • Mark Bridges – video commissioner
  • Matt LaMotte – marketing
  • Matt Schaeffer – engineer, guitar ("Humble"); additional guitar ("DNA", "Feel"); mixing ("Element")
  • Mike Bozzi – mastering at Bernie Grundman in Hollywood, CA
  • Mike Hector – additional drums ("God")
  • Moosa – TDE management
  • Punch – TDE management
  • Rat Boy – additional vocals ("Lust")
  • Ray Alba – publicity
  • Roberto Reyes – general manager, photography, TDE management
  • Sounwave – mixing ("Feel")
  • Steve Lacy – additional vocals ("Pride")
  • Thundercat – bass ("Feel")
  • Todd Douglas – business affairs
  • Todd Johnsen – business affairs
  • Tyler Page – mix assistant
  • Vladimir Sepetov – creative direction
  • Zeke Mishanec – additional recording ("Element", "Love", "Duckworth")

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[151] Gold 35,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[152] Gold 7,500*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[153] Platinum 20,000^
France (SNEP)[154] Platinum 100,000*
Italy (FIMI)[155] Gold 25,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[156] Gold 25,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[157] 2× Platinum 30,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[158] Platinum 30,000*
Russia (NFPF)[159] 3× Platinum 60,000*
Sweden (GLF)[160] Gold 20,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[161] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[93] 3× Platinum 1,002,000[92]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label Ref.
Worldwide April 14, 2017
[2]
April 21, 2017 CD [162]
July 14, 2017 Vinyl LP [163]
December 8, 2017 (Collectors Edition)
  • Digital download
  • streaming
[99]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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