USD reacts to Kendrick Lamar’s latest drop, “DAMN.”

Photo courtesy of Goldenvoice Media –
Kendrick Lamar debuted songs from “DAMN.” at his Sunday Coachella performance.

Popular rapper and frequent political commentator Kendrick Lamar has garnered a large following, especially among many University of San Diego Students. On Apr. 14, Lamar’s new album “DAMN.” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.

The rapper has become known his ability to produce catchy radio songs and his hard-hitting lyricism that frequently comments on social and racial issues in America. Led by the single “HUMBLE,” The album has received widespread critical acclaim, and amassed 603,000 album-equivalent units in its first numbers week. Lamar also debuted songs from “DAMN.” live for the first time at Coachella to the delight of many concertgoers.

Senior Niko De Laurentiis saw Lamar at the Indio music festival and reflected on his new album drop.

“I really dig the album,” De Laurentiis said. “While his other albums have more of a touch upon political and social topics, I feel like this one is more into [Lamar’s] own mind and feelings. He’s showing us his own mindset, and, even though people look to him for guidance, he’s just as lost as the rest of us. It may not be my favorite album of his, but the man drops classic after classic, and it’s hard not to consider him the greatest rapper alive.”

Lamar is a rapper and entertainer by trade, but is also known as being among the best storytelling musicians. His songs “DNA,” “DUCKWORTH,” and “PRIDE” seem to stand out among the rest of the tracks as strong lyrical works. “DUCKWORTH,” as the last song on the album, sums up the album with undertones of Lamar’s Compton childhood and upbringing, echoing the struggle of many other young, black Americans.

Junior Set Lu has seen Lamar’s progression over the years. Lu said that he believes Lamar has truly evolved as an artist.

“[Listening to his new album], I think that [Lamar] is now a poet—no longer a rapper,” Lu said. “He might just be the modern day Shakespeare. He really delivers his stories to the masses.”

Many people connect with Lamar’s message, and his rising visibility and political activism have been especially popular among young adults. Lamar has managed to elevate himself above the classification of a regular rapper through his storytelling. “DAMN.” follows in the footsteps of his past albums, and the blend of melody and inventiveness continues.

Junior Cyrus Lange recognized Lamar for his lyricism and narrative-based hip-hop.

“The new album is dope because it’s got crazy vibes and a deep story,” Lange said. “It’s able to  succeed at combining mainstream appeal with story-driven artistry, which isn’t typical in today’s music.”

Though his album has certainly been successful on paper, students all have differing opinions when it comes to music. USD is a musically-diverse campus, with students who love hip-hop and rap, but others who love electronic music or country. Still, Lamar’s latest release has caused quite a buzz, and most students have at least gotten word of it or heard a song or two on the radio or Spotify.

Sophomore Abdullah Alkhars had been listening to Drake’s latest album until Lamar came out with his new release.

“Drake’s album, ‘More Life,’ was a total hit that I really enjoyed,” Alkhars said. “It was on constant replay until [Lamar] dropped his album. When I listened to the early release song, ‘HUMBLE,’ I knew that this album was going to be a huge hit with everyone. After the full version release, ‘LOYALTY’ and ‘FEAR’ are definitely on my constant replay list, but I have to say, as a whole, I liked ‘More Life’ better.”

Sophomore Hugo Mak said “DAMN.” was a decent album, but it wasn’t necessarily in his favorite musical style.

“I’m actually surprised that his songs charted so highly,” Mak said. “I actually prefer the new Chainsmokers album—I think it’s just more fun to listen to.”

Lamar is one of the fastest rising stars in the current hip-hop scene, and although he isn’t exactly a new face on the block, he still has a long career ahead of him. “DAMN.” is the latest successful release for the rapper who has been steadily building a critically-acclaimed resume since 2010.

Junior Adriana Hernandez summed Lamar’s reputation up nicely.

“He’s definitely the realest out there.”

Written by Walker Chuppe, Arts & Culture Editor