Kendrick Lamar - Alright
The love of God is far stronger than any rebuke of man. As young black men who have practically grown up trying to get out of going to church on Sunday, some of us may have caught this lesson once or twice in those moments of actually listening to the sermon being delivered. Kendrick Lamar captures the essence of this lesson through conflict, painkillers that “only put [him] in the twilight,” reparations, and the devil himself. Kendrick has always been at his best when putting himself at the forefront of the tumult, touching on the allure of vice and temptation. Here, he’s weary and downtrodden, at his pastor’s door looking for the reason we all ask ourselves as some point: “If God is real and His love is real, why does it feel like I’m being dragged through shit?”
Vince Staples - Norf Norf
“Norf Norf” starts with an attempt at escape. The Vince Staples of summers past is dancing at a party, trying to coerce a member of the opposite gender into backseat aerobics. Meanwhile, Crip compatriots lurk in a unlit whip, waiting to pierce young men and midnight with lead projectiles. The function only distracts from the latter until it doesn’t. Someone may have dissed the set. The party recedes as more thoughts of retaliation surface.
Future - March Madness / News Or Somthn
The self-destructive, narcissistic savant creates his magnum opus in the throes of unknowable heartbreak. Future’s 2015 resurgence reads like the second act of a prestige biopic where long-sought success perverts our hero’s heart and unlocks his genius. 56 Nights is nominally inspired by his DJ’s detention in an Arabian prison, but it’s haunted by Future’s break-up with the mother of his child, as documented by acrid social media and gossip sites. Did the maker of “Tony Montana” and “Same Damn Time” recognize himself in People magazine? Much less in the opulent bacchanal of the “Honest” video? “March Madness” is a drug binge in search of normalcy amid a vortex of money, sex, drugs, guns, cars, diamonds, and social upheaval.