A subindustry of Internet exegetes has been digging deep into the album’s every line for half a year now, but Lamar isn’t particularly interested in explaining “Damn’s” many mysteries and riddles.
“I think the more people talk about it, the more it becomes fascinating, and you can have a debate about it,” he says. “It’s all healthy because it’s talking about the music. As long as I keep knowing how much to give, giving just enough, and being able to pull back and leave the audience to interpret it, I think [the music] will stay intact.”
There’s been no shortage of praise for the four remarkably dense and challenging hit albums he’s made in the past five years. What’s often overlooked is the titanic amount of work he’s put in to make them.
“That man’s an animal — that’s all I can really say,” says Atlanta producer Mike Will (he’s known professionally as Mike Will Made It), who crafted both “Humble” and furious album opener “DNA.” “Kendrick’s the type to fall asleep in the studio and wake up and still be in that motherfucker. All the way locked in, a workaholic.”
Unlike a good many star rappers of his caliber, Lamar doesn’t simply wait for a producer to provide him with a beat to rhyme over. Working closely with a few key collaborators who have been with him for virtually his entire career, Lamar has hands-on involvement in his music from start to finish.