Alive and kick­ing

New Straits Times - - Groove -

DAMN

Ken­drick La­mar

TO la­bel Ken­drick La­mar a mu­si­cian, a rap­per or a song­writer and noth­ing more would be a se­ri­ous in­jus­tice, as he con­tin­ues his bat­tle against the is­sues that he be­lieves plague the world to­day on his lat­est mas­ter­piece, DAMN.

The open­ing track Blood be­gins with his nar­ra­tive on a strug­gling in­di­vid­ual and ends with a gun­shot fol­lowed by a record­ing of a news re­port on his lyrics that claims that he and other hip hop artistes have per­pet­u­ated vi­o­lence in the United States.

That in it­self is a pre­view of how the rest of the al­bum pans out.

And the al­bum is as ag­gres­sive as it is po­etic, with as many threats and boasts as it has mes­sages of peace and re­spect.

It speaks vol­umes on how in tune La­mar is with cur­rent af­fairs, see­ing how he seam­lessly goes in and out of both global nar­ra­tives with per­sonal ones, and de­scribes how they are some­how in­ter­re­lated.

Judg­ing by the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate, both in the United States and world­wide, he could not have picked bet­ter lead sin­gles than DNA and Hum­ble.

It’s also im­por­tant to men­tion the art and ef­fort put into the mu­sic videos for the afore­men­tioned sin­gles.

Which brings us full cir­cle to the point made at the very top: To la­bel La­mar a mu­si­cian, a rap­per or a song­writer and noth­ing more would be a se­ri­ous in­jus­tice.

La­mar is a vi­sion in­fused with the con­fi­dence and courage to ex­press him­self ef­fec­tively. Mean­while, the masses lis­ten in­tently.

5/5 THE SEARCH FOR EV­ERY­THING John Mayer

WHEN you pop this CD into your player, or look it up on your pre­ferred stream­ing plat­form, you’ll be wel­comed by a beau­ti­ful, jazzy pi­ano pro­gres­sion, sup­ple­mented by a bass riff that wel­comes you to the new­est chap­ter in John Mayer’s life.

Whether or not you’ve heard his mu­sic, if you know of John Mayer you must have heard of his propen­sity for in­fi­delity and his silky smooth fin­gers that cer­tainly trans­late to some fine and im­pres­sive gui­tar play­ing.

None of the things that en­dear us to Mayer has left him: The gui­tars on The Search For Ev­ery­thing will earn the re­spect of any gui­tar en­thu­si­ast, while his lyrics still un­de­ni­ably per­son­i­fies his nar­ra­tive that has spanned close to two decades.

When lis­ten­ing to most mu­sic from artistes, you get caught up by the vo­cal seg­ments of the song.

Mayer, how­ever, has a knack for mak­ing you hit rewind or pull the slider back on his in­stru­men­tal bridges, with his mes­meris­ing gui­tar so­los of­ten be­ing the high­light, from one track to the other.

Tracks that stand out from the al­bum are Rosie and Emoji Of A Wave, bring­ing you back to Con­tin­uum and Par­adise Val­ley, while Still Feel Like Your Man started the record off on a mod­ern note.

Still, the Mayer we know and love is alive and kick­ing, though fans who are af­ter a new or even dif­fer­ent sound might be left want­ing.

4/5

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