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DAMN. opens with the shimmering, ominous “BLOOD.,” a free-verse parable about a meeting with a blind woman that ends with a bang—a gunshot that cuts the narrator’s life short. That fades into a prismatic sample of Fox News commentators complaining about the lyrics to his breakout single “Alright,” which he performed while perched atop a graffiti-covered police cruiser during the 2015 BET Awards. “Oh please, ugh. I don’t like it,” Fox commentator Kimberly Guilfoyle says. That leads into the harsh beats and boastful verses of the invigorating “DNA.,” which flips clichés about black culture on its head while also slamming hip-hop’s most prominent critics—like Geraldo Rivera, who said, “This is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to African Americans than racism in recent years.” Lamar and Atlanta hip-hop mastermind Mike WiLL Made-It use the sample to great effect, dropping Rivera’s voice into part of a verbal melee with Lamar and an ominous-sounding countdown.

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