Review Summary: Chapter 1: the drug free youthSection.80
is a mess. Just like the bible covering the condoms on its artwork, the album attempts to conceal its primal hunger for simple pleasures via devout belief in a faith that its author firmly believes in. As such, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth's brief exclamations of racial pride lead to his self-identification falling somewhat flat, especially when dwarfed by tales of sorrow that have led him and the characters in this story down a path to divine redemption.
Remarkably, the only element of this record that doesn't sound muddled as a result of Duckworth's crisis of faith is the narrative. An immensely engaging lyricist, his delivery strays into hushed, sombre territory whenever more sensitive topics are dealt with, capitalising on his ear for melody as vocal effects constitute a significant portion of this album's most memorable moments.
But whilst his bitter tone on 'Keisha's Song' might imply a self-awareness of his deeply troubled surroundings just waiting to be morphed into a more ambitious project, it is clear on this album that braggadocio is running Duckworth into the ground. The kind of choppy beats and hooks found on 'The Spiteful Chant' were jeopardising the frame of his intriguing story and crushing all prospect of his album's emotional impact.
With so many songs lacking the bubbling tension flaunted so excessively in album highlights like 'A.D.H.D.', around half of this album becomes utterly disposable, not necessarily due to Duckworth's weakness as a rapper or lyricist but rather because his ethos seemed destined to mesh with songs that acted as a product of a hardened street warrior. Instead, Duckworth paints us a picture of innocence that he is unsurprisingly very eager for us to buy.