The reversal of Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. isn't necessary in a society where streaming is king, however you can't knock the quality of music.
Less than eight months after the initial release of the hugely impressive DAMN., Kendrick Lamar has provided fans with a prompt revitalisation of the album with DAMN. COLLECTORS EDITION. The new release sees the rapper’s hugely critically acclaimed and commercially successful sixth studio album put into reverse order, allowing fans to revisit DAMN. with a fresh and alternative view.
On original release, DAMN. offered a clear introspective story that took us through Kendrick’s personal retelling of his shortfalls in life, after meeting and being shot by a woman in opening track ‘BLOOD.’ Whilst being significantly less politically driven than previous albums To Pimp a Butterfly and good kid, m.A.A.d city, it became evident that DAMN. was equally, if not more, successful and was widely regarded as another instant classic. However, with the latest release of the new collector’s edition, we are invited to take another look at the album that served as Kendrick’s coronation as the king of rap.
It was clear from early on that DAMN. was always intended to be listened to both front to back and back to front, with DAMN. THE COLLECTORS EDITION’s opener ‘DUCKWORTH.’ providing the lyrics “Just remember, what happens on Earth stays on Earth / We gon’ put it in reverse”. Although DAMN. COLLECTORS EDITION unfortunately does not provide us with any new material, listeners will undoubtedly be familiar with the Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping ‘HUMBLE.’ and the Rihanna-featuring ‘LOYALTY.’ Yet, despite the unquestionable quality of the music, production and lyrics, it seems rather unnecessary to revisit an album that was released so recently that it remains fresh in the mind of the public. Arguably, in terms of reading an album as an intellectual piece, this is artistically a move that could be fruitful to the most passionate of fans, providing a deeper insight into the way Kendrick not only tells a story, but his thought process about planning and writing music. However, in an age where streaming is at the forefront of all digestion of music, albums are becoming less and less relevant as full pieces with singles becoming more isolated and successful in their own right, hence without providing any reconstruction on the actual songs it seems rather pointless to release DAMN. COLLECTORS EDITION at all.
Nonetheless, this album is unapologetically made specifically for fans as what can almost be described as a piece of novelty memorabilia, and in which case it is perfectly passable. However as a statement or an attempt to create something more from an album that has already produced so much, it is rather underwhelming. With a hoard of Grammy nominations under Kendrick’s belt, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, and Best Rap Song, I am in no position to question the best rapper on the planet in this moment in time. He has earned the right to a creative license and with a refined but pleasing new black and white cover, and an intriguing reversal of DAMN., it is clear that for some this release is justified.
DAMN. COLLECTORS EDITION is out now via Top Dawg Entertainment