It’s been more than four months since Kendrick Lamar dropped DAMN., and we're still peeling back the layers of his acclaimed fourth album.
Following DAMN.’s release, many fans speculated that there may be a second album or some kind of partner project in the works. Speaking with MTV News ahead of the VMAs — where he’s performing and nominated for eight awards on Sunday (August 27) — Kendrick said, “Any of my fans know that my albums get real intricate and there’s always details in there. For the most part, they usually have a good listening ear to figure out what’s going on.”
One of the most popular DAMN. hypotheses is that the album can be played in reverse order. Kendrick confirmed that long-held theory, explaining why he likes elements of that version better than the original.
“I think like a week after the album came out, [fans] realized you can play the album backwards,” he told MTV News correspondent Gaby Wilson. “It plays as a full story and even a better rhythm. It’s one of my favorite rhythms and tempos within the album. It’s something that we definitely premeditate while we’re in the studio.”
When you listen to DAMN. in reverse order, the album takes on a completely different sonic arc. But, as Kendrick explained, it’s not so much the actual narrative that changes.
“I don’t think the story necessarily changes, I think the feel changes,” he said. “The initial vibe listening from the top all the way to the bottom is ... this aggression and this attitude. You know, ‘DNA,’ and exposing who I really am. You listen from the back end, and it’s almost the duality and the contrast of the intricate Kendrick Lamar. Both of these pieces are who I am.”
So there you have it — DAMN. in its original order is a must-listen, but hearing it in reverse will help you see both sides of the artist who loves to keep us on our toes.
Catch Kendrick's must-see performance when the 2017 VMAs touch down at the Forum in Inglewood, California, on Sunday, August 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. See the full list of nominees and vote for Best New Artist now!