Critics Weigh In: Kendrick Lamar, ‘DAMN.’
The critics’ reviews are in: Kendrick Lamar has made another ‘DAMN.’ good album, just as its title suggests.
There’s no other way to say it. When it comes to the new Kendrick Lamar album, DAMN., the critics are like, DAMN, this is a great album. Sure, there’s a group of critics who feel DAMN. has cracks compared to good Kid m.A.A.d City and To Pimp a Butterfly, but overwhelmingly, critics are aboard. As of publication date, on Metacritic, DAMN. earned a score of 96. 96 – totally a DAMN good score. Okay, enough puns.
Let’s start negatively first. On Metacritic, there’s only one critical outlet that gave DAMN. a mixed score (60). That was Exclaim. The Metacritic excerpt of the full review cited the following criticism:
“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.”
Hmm. Does Exclaim have a point? It depends on how you examine DAMN. yourself. While it is less conceptual and more straightforward seemingly than his previous two albums, upon closer examination, it’s more complex – at least according to The Musical Hype. Even so, the 6 out of 10 awarded by Exclaim may not be totally off base. DAMN. is definitely a different album for Kendrick Lamar, and there’s more modern production compared to To Pimp a Butterfly.
Everybody else seems to be onboard the damn train…more puns… Five outlets gave DAMN. a review that was eventually assigned a metascore in the 80s. Both The Independent (UK) and Mojo awarded the album an 80. Sputnikmusic contributed an 82, RapReviews.com awarded an 85, while Chicago Tribune awarded the highest of the 80s at 88. The most colorful excerpt by Metacritic hails from the review by The Independent:
“This album isn’t a ‘Holy shit I need to text my friend imploring them to listen immediately’ mind-blower, but it is a valuable addition to his oeuvre.”
Above and Beyond Reviews
Now for even more enthusiastic reviews for DAMN. 12 out of 26 reviewers (more than 46%) awarded the album a score in the 90s. Seven outlets gave the effort a 90: Slant Magazine, Boston Globe, Spin, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, AllMusic, and PopMatters. Five were more giving, with Paste Magazine and Consequences of Sound both offering a score of 91, Pitchfork upping the ante to 92, The 405 giving 95, and HipHopDX awarding a 98.
Some even went all-in on DAMN. Here at The Musical Hype, five-star reviews are a rarity. We bestowed DAMN. with one because of its complexity. Arguably, this is such a dense album that it edges good Kid m.A.A.d City and To Pimp a Butterfly in that regard. Do five stars mean it’s flawless? Nothing is perfect, but there’s a lot to like about DAMN. Unfortunately, The Musical Hype isn’t figured into Metacritic calculations – bummer. Regardless, eight outlets (nearly 31% of critics) awarded DAMN. a 100. Those organizations include The Guardian, The Telegraph (UK), Pretty Much Amazing, NOW Magazine, The A.V. Club, Entertainment Weekly, Tiny Mix Tapes, and The Quietus.
All said and done, 77% of reviews gave DAMN. an A (90-100%). How did one popular vlogger, theneedledrop, feel about the album? Anthony Fantano was complimentary, but critical in his video review, only giving DAMN. a 7/10 or what would equate to a 70 metascore. While some followers were respectful of Mr. Fantano’s opinion, others were disappointed the album didn’t receive at least slightly higher. Other music vlogging critics also weighed in, including ARTV and Spectrum Pulse. Spectrum Pulse also offers a text review.
Regardless of some differing opinions, the consensus is that Kendrick Lamar made the whole world say DAMN. Well he had to – that’s the title of his album! Okay, enough puns already! DAMN is a winner, period.