Editor’s note: From 2012 to 2014, Matt Rice wrote the music column Matt on Music for The Eastern Echo, the student newspaper for Eastern Michigan University. In 2016, Matt relaunched this column on The Young Folks. You can read past installments of this column here.
Two rap albums in 2017 have been breaking streaming records. One is from my favorite working artist, the other from an artist whose work I’ve never understood. Here are my thoughts on both.
Kendrick Lamar: DAMN. (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope) The use of periods in every song title and the album title itself seems to be saying, it is what it is, and for good reason. Like so many all-time greats, K-Dot released his social masterpiece and then went smaller, first with the demos album untitled unmastered. and now with a studio album that fails to live up to the power of good kid, m.A.A.d city and (especially) To Pimp a Butterfly. Only, what would? His masterpieces are better than most people’s, and so it stands to reason that DAMN. would be better than most people’s slumps. And it is, the production calculated and classic, the words covering the trials of fame, of being a major artist in a broken world. At its best, there’s “DNA.,” which could be a stronger lone cut than anything from TPAB. At its worst, “FEAR.” goes over seven minutes, which would be frustrating if the album weren’t HUMBLE. enough to fall under an hour. 8.5/10
Drake: More Life (OVO Sound/Young Money/Cash Money/Republic) Like J. Cole, this “playlist” is bound to go platinum. Thank God for the features. 7.5/10
Single of the Week – Low Cut Connie: “Controversy” (Contender) I can’t think of a better band to reinterpret this Prince classic, but more than anything, it makes me want to hear an entire album of boogie-woogie Prince covers.