Headphones: Kendrick Lamar, well DAMN.

Since 2015, when To Pimp a Butterfly surfaced, fans have been patiently waiting for the rising rapper Kendrick Lamar to release a record. Well DAMN., thank you Kendrick. The artist conquered everything we could hope for and more — emphasizing his own perspective concerning significant topics in this record.

Dissimilarly, Harry Styles released his first piece of music without his four former band members, in a perspective completely different from his own. Style’s single ‘Sign of the Times,’ is from the perspective of a mother dying from giving birth to her child.  

Shifting to light hearted releases, ‘It’s a Vibe,’ a fun hip-hop song with 2 Chainz, Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign, and Jhenné Aiko, now comes with a fun, sultry music video. ‘Stay,’ by Zedd and Alessia Cara also produced a great music video to go along with their catchy tune.

Album of the Week: DAMN. – Kendrick Lamar:  The day has finally come. Kendrick’s new album dropped. He expresses just about everything with this record of his. He appropriately addresses politics, love, loosing his father, growing up in Compton and so much more. Each track with the short titles coincides with the monumental meaning of each word: ‘PRIDE.,’ ‘HUMBLE.,’ 'LOYALTY.,’ ‘FEEL.,’ and ‘LUST.’ are some of the many examples. Each track dips into different waters, and ultimately combines to create an eccentric, unified rap record. Just as you’re getting bored of one sound, the guy completely shifts to something different — yet each sound byte perfectly fits into K-Dot’s uncharted artistry that is DAMN.

Producers like Mike Will Made It and Sounwave are responsible for carrying out K-Dot’s vision for his fourth album. Kendrick was able to accentuate the raw sound of rap in its childhood during the 1990s, as well as write the most prolific lyrics yet. Kendrick really turns his feelings into art, paving his own path to fulfilling his role as the best rapper of his generation.

Lamar integrates various instruments and technique in this album, never leaving out the excellently produced beats. The album begins with ‘BLOOD.,’ an ironic introductory track illustrating how Kendrick’s will to help a blind woman results in the woman shooting him dead. The intro concludes with a snippet from FOX News, and turns to his hard-hitting track named ‘DNA.’ In this track he makes sure we understand the royalty and loyalty inside his DNA.

He shows us every angle of his perspective with these 14 tracks. Lamar lets us into his soft side with ‘LOVE.,’ featuring ZACARI’s warm voice. This is one of the only times we witness Kendrick’s vulnerability, reciting lyrics like “I wanna be with you, ayy, I wanna be with Just love me.” On “XXX.,’ the artist reverts to his hard rap, featuring distorted DJ scratches and a transcendent beat that is impossible to predict. This is the most intense and fiery track, addressing serious topics such as gun control, police brutality, Donald Trump and America as a whole. Bono makes a pleasant surprise cameo toward the end of the song where the melody transitions to a relaxing jazzy tune.  

Every track really embodies the guiding theme it represents. The song ‘FEAR.,’ carries a suspenseful, dark beat with a calm and ready Kendrick. The rapper delves into his past fear at seven years old of his mother beating his ass, his fear at 17 that his skin color could possibly cost him his life and finally his fear at 27 that he will loose everything he has worked for.

The final track ‘DUCKWORTH.,’ comes in with a slow, graceful tune that references renowned rapper 2PAC, “It was always me vs the world / Until I found it’s me vs me.” Lamar delivers one of his strongest tracks, talking about growing up without a father, hustling in the projects, gang affiliation and more. Kendrick’s syncopation is controlled and skilled, maintaining a strong tone and prominence over a lovely melody. The artist uses techniques such as reversed lyrics, and finally concludes his rich record with the beginning lyric in ‘BLOOD.,’ reciting, “So I was taking a walk the other day…”  

Single of Week: Sign of the Times – Harry Styles: As the artist's first major solo release, Harry Styles really does not disappoint. He matured from his teenage testosterone-driven urges, to concrete, passionate emotions. The electric guitar comes in smoothly as the drums lead the direction of this song. Styles gives us an upbeat, slow, unexpected and soulful delivery. ‘Sign of the Times’ was produced by Jeff Bhasker and co-written by Styles. He is the fourth of five original members of One Direction to release his own single.

Styles really embodies a Bob Dylan / David Bowie feel with this track. I cannot wait to see what else the talented singer has in mind when he releases his new album on May 12. Styles created this new mature single with the influence of childbirth in his writing. The lyrics are essentially the artist’s interpretation of what advice a mother would leave her newborn baby as she dies from giving birth. The lyrics are meaningful in preparing this child for the crazy world we live in.

Music Video

Hip-Hop/R&B: It’s a Vibe – 2 Chainz featuring Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz & Jhené Aiko:  It really is a vibe. 2 Chainz, Ty, Trey, and Jhené all collaborate to create a smooth, patiently sexy song – 'It’s a vibe.' The video is perfect for the lyrics in this song. It is simply illustrating what it means to vibe with someone, something or some place.

EDM: Stay – Zedd featuring Alessia Cara: This playful pop-EDM song has simple, relatable lyrics that transcend on video into a story of heavy love and loss. Each moment in the song is reflected by a strategic filming technique. This music video really demonstrates how important moments are. It illustrates how one moment can change everything – one moment kills Zedd, ending his new found love with Alessia in this music video.