Every single Friday, we find and collate the best albums released this week so you don’t have to. Look no further than right here for your weekend listening material.
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN
“Last LP I tried to lift the black artists”, Kendrick spits on “ELEMENT”, “but it’s a difference between black artists and wack artists.” In light of his socially conscious and culture-shifting classic To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar is allowed to question the credibility of other rival artists around him. On DAMN, it’s clear Kendrick’s mindset and intentions have shifted somewhat. His creative approach has broadened, not confined by the discourse of inner-turmoil and social injustice. Instead, we get a huge amalgamation of sounds, genres and topics. “LOYALTY” is a drifty, melodic duet with Rhianna, backed by a cut up “24K magic”, “PRIDE” is a jangly guitar-led indie track, “HUMBLE” is a basic and bare double barrel diss track, “LOVE” is straight up pop and “XXX” features a very bizarre Bono verse. This album is full of surprises, but quite unsurprisingly it is casually brilliant. At its very heights it’s masterful. “FEAR” is a beautiful slow-funk track journeying through the types of fear experienced through Lamar’s life and wouldn’t be out of place on TPAB. The patient “LUST” eventually drops a gloriously disarming funk beat with dramatic strings and some powerful Donald Trump commentary. It’s one of his greatest tracks to date – this is quite amazing considering it also features a RAT BOY sample…
I undoubtedly need to take more time to dissect DAMN, but to me it confirms that Kendrick Lamar can pick and choose his sonic direction without flinching. Whatever the message he wants to bring to the table. Hip hop, trap, pop, indie, duets, politics, introspection, beef – it really doesn’t matter what he does – Kendrick is a master of it all.
Joey Bada$$ – ALL AMERICAN BADA$$
Released last Friday, Joey Bada$$’ ALL AMERICAN BADA$$ was perhaps unfairly missed off last week (mostly due to Farmer Jah Misery day). Since the release of the supremely impressive 1999 mixtape in 2012, Joey Bada$$ has been seen as a steward of the sound associated with hip-hop’s golden age in the 90s. ALL AMERICAN BADA$$ is more in line with the radiant, melodic sounds of 1999 than his previous, slightly darker releases (“B4.DA.$$”, 2015 & “Summer Knights”, 2013). Lyrically, Bada$$ sets his sights on politics, oppression and racism in the US. Three of the album’s strongest tracks, “FOR MY PEOPLE”, “TEMPTATION” and “LAND OF THE FREE” maintain a sunny mood whilst earnestly confronting the discrimination and oppression of African-Americans. With highlights like “ROCKABYE BABY ft. Schoolboy Q” and “LEGENDARY ft. J. Cole”, the album’s second half takes a slightly darker turn melodically but certainly maintains its listenability. The political theme, which is continuous throughout, is admittedly more powerful at some points than others – it must be remembered that this is the product of a 22 year old who is inevitably still perfecting his craft and message. Regardless, ALL AMERICAN BADA$$ will be one of the most instantly pleasing hip-hop albums you’ll listen to this year.
Part Chimp – IV
As the title suggests, IV is Part Chimp’s fourth studio album. One of the UKs favourite noise-rock/sludge metallers of the 00s, Part Chimp have achieved something of a cult status for fans of the genre. The build up to this record – their first since 2009’s Thriller – has been met with quiet excitement. Fans will be glad to know that it matches up to expectations. The album is characterised by building hypnotic riffs and raucous bass. Consistently raw, vigorous and incredibly loud, the strength of the tracks as a whole make it hard to pick out individual highlights. Saying that, the potently dogged “Ro Ro” and explosively hurried “The Saturn Superstition” tend to stand out on what is a very good comeback album.