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10 Reasons Why Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN.' Album Solidifies His Legacy

The role of the messiah is one that's been cast upon rising rap phenoms for quite some time. Having that weight on an artist's shoulders can make their career, just as it has for legends like Rakim, Ice Cube, Nas, and The Notorious B.I.G., who all garnered instant acclaim for their preternatural abilities on the mic. When it comes to carving out a place in the history books early on in their career, there very few wordsmiths who have solidified their legacies by the age of 30. On the other hand, those same expectations can also cripple an artist and make them wilt under the pressure, as a number of artists can attest to.

At the outset of the decade, when rap fans were looking for a new messiah to help move the culture forward, one of the prime candidates was Kendrick Lamar, a promising spitter hailing from Compton, California making noise with his mixtapes, Kendrick Lamar EP and Overly Dedicated. Then, a younger Kendrick began to catch the attention of transcendent figures like Dr. Dre -- who eventually took the young rapper under his wing -- and the spotlight turned to his major label debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city.

Deemed an instant classic by many, good kid, m.A.A.d city only raised the stakes for Kendrick's sophomore album, with the threat of the infamous sophomore jinx looming over it. However, Kendrick would later take his artistry to another level with To Pimp a Butterfly, follow-up to his Aftermath/Interscope debut album.

It's not often that an artist comes along and helps to shift the paradigm and the rules that the mainstream realm plays by, but Kendrick Lamar is one of those talents. With two critically acclaimed albums under his belt, as well as a pair of platinum plaques to show for his efforts, Kendrick is now generating chatter and debate surrounding what his place within the lineage of rap will be when it's all said and done.

With the release of the rapper's conversation-dominating album, DAMN.,  we decided to explore the factors that could influence Lamar's legacy of arguably being the greatest rap artist of his generation.

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1. DAMN. Could Be His Third Consecutive Classic Album

When looking back at the more revered rap artists in hip-hop history, one common denominator shared by those that have earned legendary status as MCs is being the creator of multiple classic albums throughout their career. Some artists don't release their best material until late in their career, but there have been a few to come out of the gate with a streak of classic albums, with three being the magic number. From rap groups like A Tribe Called Quest, N.W.A., and Public Enemy, to soloists like Ice Cube, Eminem, and Scarface, there have been a select group of icons that were able to solidify their legacy solely off the strength of their first few albums. Kendrick appears to be the latest to join that pantheon, as DAMN. builds off the momentum set by good kid, m.A.A.d. city, and To Pimp a Butterfly and completes the rapper's trifecta of pivotal LPs.

2. The Album Showcases His Ability As A Hit-Maker

Upon Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment inking their partnership with Aftermath/Interscope, one of the questions that surrounded the signing was whether Kendrick's hype would translate into radio spins and record sales. Although he has seen some chart success with singles like "Swimming Pools (Drank)," which peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard 200, Kendrick had yet to deliver a smash hit prior to the announcement of DAMN.. That quickly changed when the rapper unleashed the album's lead-single, "HUMBLE." The song, produced by Mike WiLL Made It, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. It became the first rap song to achieve such a feat since 2010, giving Kendrick his biggest song to date and serving as proof of his ability to dominate with style and substance.

3. Comparisons To Tupac Shakur

Being a great rapper on the west coast while being compared to past legends is next to unavoidable, especially with the shadows of pioneers like Ice Cube and Tupac Shakur looming large over California. While there have been a few instances of rappers being groomed to step into those shoes, only to fail or falter under those expectations, Kendrick Lamar has not only risen to the occasion but he has embraced the challenge of building his own legacy while contextualizing his own place in rap history. After ending his To Pimp a Butterfly album with an imagined interview with Shakur, Kendrick makes it a point to subtly compare himself to the slain icon various times on DAMN., like on "ELEMENT.," where he raps "You know careers take off, just gotta be patient/Mr. One through Five, that's the only logic/Fake my death, go to Cuba, that's the only option" -- a nod to the legend of Pac. Before name-dropping his rap deity on the subsequent track, "FEAR" and boasting "I feel like this gotta be the feelin' what 'Pac was," Cornrow Kenny puts himself in rare air on DAMN., and follows a blueprint laid down by former greats and current ones alike.

4. Masterful Collaborative Efforts

A sign of a true musical legend is the ability to not only secure high-profile talents for collaborative purposes but by doing so in ways that are innovative and unexpected, which Kendrick Lamar accomplishes once again on DAMN.. Upping the ante with contributions from Rihanna, who trades verses with Kendrick on the standout cut "LOYALTY.," and rock band U2 ("XXX.)," the features showcase the rapper's willingness to veer right when others go left.

5. Rare Storytelling

Storytelling is among the more vital skills when it comes to the art of emceeing. Many of the more vaunted lyricists and songwriters that have come along over the years have spun spellbinding tales that have played huge roles in securing their legacy and separating them from the pack. Kendrick Lamar has never been shy about incorporating true-to-life testimonials, recollections, and accounts into his music, dating back to his days as a rap blog darling pre-good kid, m.A.A.d. city. He carries on the tradition with a few of DAMN.'s premier offerings. "XXX," FEAR.," and "DUCKWORTH." are all tracks that continue to give insight into the life and times of Kendrick Lamar, while touching on the formative years that molded him into the man that he is today.

6. Transparency

An ingredient for lasting success in the world of rap is having your story become synonymous with overcoming trials, tribulations, and other adversity. Kendrick Lamar has done so while making a name for himself beyond the borders of Compton. On DAMN., these aspects are continued as the rapper gives fans a glimpse into his relationships with his family, fiance, community, and most of all, himself. As opposed to his previous two LP's, which were largely built on narratives rooted in his experience, there's no overarching theme. However, across the album's 14 songs, Lamar gives of himself in bits in pieces, but those occasional nuggets are worth their weight in gold and get the listener more familiar with what makes K.Dot tick beyond the beats and rhymes.

7. Respect From His Peers

Rap is by far the most competitive of all musical genres but is not devoid of reverence or respect -- as Kendrick Lamar has shown over the past five years. Willing to take on any rapper in his path, the brash upstart that once threw down the gauntlet against his peers on the 2013 track "Control" has also gained fans in the very figures he's focused on eclipsing. Rappers like The Game, Busta Rhymes, P. Diddy, and others upon praising K.Dot upon giving his latest long player a spin. It's one thing to be success and another to be acclaimed, but when you combine both and possess them in spades, you can't be stopped.

8. Kendrick Lamar and The Little Homies' Creative Vision

Music videos may not hold the same weight they once did in the past, but they are still a great way to visually convey a message or inspire thought in regards to the meaning of an artist's rhyme and reason. In his career thus far, Kendrick has shown a knack for matching his lyrical content with visual themes, resulting in some of the more memorable music videos in recent memory. He has done it with the help of collaborator Dave Free, who he teamed up with to form The Little Homies and helped co-direct a majority of his music videos. With credits for videos like "Ignorance Is Bless," "i," and "Alright" under their belt, The Little Homies have pushed the envelope once again with the accompanying music video to "HUMBLE." & "DNA.," their two latest visuals to give today's rap fans a taste of quality music in the same way that legends like Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, and others did before becoming icons of the culture.

9. It's An Exercise in Variety

Making one classic album is an accomplishment in itself, but being able to create multiple albums with varying moods, themes, and sounds is pure magic and has only been pulled off by the rarest of talents. Lamar has proven himself to be one of the savants able to make the impossible look easy and leave the crowd to marvel, just as listeners did after taking a listen to DAMN.-- a stark contrast to his previous albums. While good kid, m.A.A.d. city was distinctly steeped in California gang culture, and To Pimp a Butterfly was a funk defied tale of discovery and redemption, DAMN. is free-flowing in nature and comes off as Kendrick's most accessible offering to date. It doesn't sacrifice the substance and guile that has helped elevate him from a mere lyrical miracle into one of the most important voices in rap today.

10. It Stamps Him As One of The More Successful and Acclaimed Rappers of All-Time

If you look at the lists of what many consider to be the best rappers of all-time, you will find a mix of those who were able to reach commercial success, but may have sacrificed artistically to reach those heights. You'll also find a number of more respected lyricists who failed to make an impact on the mainstream and considered unsung and underrated when their body of work is compared with that of more famous rap figures.

However, Kendrick Lamar is on a short list of artists who have been able to check both boxes off, putting him in the conversation with the likes of The Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, 2Pac, Scarface, and others who have earned platinum plaques while simultaneously releasing what is considered their best work to date. Reaching platinum certification with his first two major label albums. If early reports are any indicator, DAMN. is set to debut atop the Billboard 200 and is expected to yield Mr. Duckworth his third consecutive platinum plaque, as well as acclaim for what many are calling another instant classic, making this another reason why his distinction as a rap legend is all but a foregone conclusion.

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Issa Vibe: The Best Songs To Fit Your Different 4/20 Sessions

April 20th isn’t a national holiday, but it might as well be.

Although recreational marijuana use is only legal in 10 states, the U.S. is home to approximately 35 million regular users of cannabis, according to a survey done by Yahoo News and Marist University. That's 10.6 percent of the American population and while that may seem minuscule, the numbers are growing daily and it's understandable.

Weed has now become a staple of American culture; it's become a legitimate business in the states where it's legal, it's now part of the way people socialize, and better yet it's a theme in some of the hottest music out today. "Kush" has been included in some of the hardest verses that millennials and generation-z kids have heard in their lifetime.

Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, amazing emcees in their own right, are also widely known for their love of the green plant. Wiz's biggest album, Rolling Papers is clearly influenced by weed and along with the Snoop Dogg-assisted "Young, Wild & Free" is all about that green positivity.

There's an endless list of hits about rolling up a joint, hitting it and passing it, but what about moods? Whether it's a bowl, a blunt or an edible weed, can leave people feeling a variety of ways and that all can be traced to a certain strand of weed someone's inhaling, or the mood they're already.

Regardless, it's important to be prepared and have music ready to match whatever feelings marijuana concocts; and that's why VIBE compiled an adequate list of songs for each of the main pot moods.

So on this 4/20, sit back, relax, smoke and find the songs that suit the vibe.

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The "Let Me Chill Out" Mood 

Sometimes the best way to come down from an over the top high is to play some tunes with a soft beat and a light voice. The best artists in the game right now, like Jhené Aiko for instance, have created that sound that's perfect for when relaxation is needed, so of course, she made the list.  These are the top four songs that can help anyone kick back and relax if a pull from a joint just isn't hitting the right way.

"Blue Dream" by Jhené Aiko "Muse" by Afro Nostalgia "Summer Games" by Drake "LOVE." by Kendrick Lamar (feat. Zacari) The Bad B*tch Hours or "Top Two and I'm Not Two" Mood 

You look around the room and realize: you're top two and you're not two in it. All it took was one or a couple of puffs and then a pass to make you feel pretty good about yourself. One of the main upsides to smoking that's constantly mentioned in the media is that it can help alleviate chronic pain, well, another positive to it is that it can leave you feeling sexy, sensual and everything in between.

This is that high that can make you feel that you're significant other is lucky to have you, and subsequently makes you hit them up, that tells you: you're single and ready to mingle. It's a smoking session that lets you know: if you shoot your shot now, you'll score and it's a session that you want music playing that only affirms how sultry and seductive you feel. If this is how 4/20 leaves you feeling, putting on some RiRi or even Young Thug can effectively get you 'in your bag.'

"Same Ol' Mistakes" by Rihanna "Tyrant" by Kali Uchis (feat. Jorja Smith) "Worth It" by Young Thug "Smoke Break" by Chance the Rapper (feat. Future) The "Head in the Clouds" Mood 

More often than not, edibles have the power of leaving people spaced out and speaking slowly, after consuming them. Sometimes smoking weed, or hotboxing with friends is a silent event. Either everyone's consumed by their phones, or every other person has been looking at a nonexistent spot on the wall for the past 15 minutes.

Regardless this isn't the high where people want to hear "Act Up" by City Girls, no matter how much they love them. No, this is the high where people need music that takes them on a journey. Songs where the production is out of this world and it seems like the artist specifically made the song for a smoke session like no other. Travis Scott's ASTROWORLD is full of tracks with that vibe, and Lil' Wayne, a weed connoisseur of his own, has songs that fulfill that need too. Smoke a bit and let the weed do its thing.

"ASTROTHUNDER" by Travis Scott "I Feel Like Dying" by Lil' Wayne "Hyyer" by Kid Cudi "St. Tropez" by J. Cole The "Got the Giggles" Mood 

This is when the blunt hits perfectly and there's nothing wrong in the world or when the bowl did its' job and leaves everyone feeling silly. A "feel good high" is the best way to describe and the best way to live through that kind of smoke session is to listen to some "feel good music." These are the songs that can have people swaying unknowingly to its' beat, or the tracks that leave people smiling from ear to ear. This is the session that lets people know that "this is it chief," and here are the best songs to go along with it.

"Pass the Vibes" by Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment "Dreamcatcher" by Metro Boomin' (feat. Swae Lee & Travis Scott) "It's a Vibe" by 2 Chainz (feat. Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz & Jhené Aiko) "Binz" by Solange
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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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Beyoncé performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California.
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Homecoming: The 5 Best Moments Of Beyoncé’s Documentary

Once Beyoncé became the first African-American woman to headline in its nearly 20-year history, we knew Coachella would never the same. To mark the superstar’s historic moment, the 2018 music and arts festival was appropriately dubbed #Beychella and fans went into a frenzy on social media as her illustrious performance was live-streamed by thousands. (Remember when fans recreated her choreographed number to O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad”?)

With a legion of dancers, singers and musicians adorned with gorgeous costumes showcasing custom-made crests, the singer’s whirlwind performance honored black Greek letter organizations, Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and paid homage to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Aside from the essence of black musical subgenres like Houston’s chopped and screwed and Washington D.C.’s go-go music, the entertainer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as “The Black National Anthem,” and implemented a dancehall number, sampling the legendary Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, to show off the versatility of black culture.

One year after #Beychella’s historic set, the insightful concert film, Homecoming, began streaming on Netflix and unveiled the rigorous months of planning that went into the iconic event. The 2-hour 17-minute documentary highlights Beyoncé’s enviable work ethic and dedication to her craft, proving why this performance will be cemented in popular culture forever. Here are the best moments from Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary.

The Intentional Blackness

“Instead of me bringing out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella.”

Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé made it known that everything and everyone included in the creative process leading up to the annual festival was deliberately chosen. “I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid,” says Beyoncé. “Every tiny detail had an intention.” When speaking on black people as a collective the entertainer notes, “The swag is limitless.” Perhaps the most beautiful moments in Homecoming are the shots that focus on the uniqueness of black hair and its versatility. What’s appreciated above all is the singer’s commitment to celebrating the various facets of blackness and detailing why black culture needs to be celebrated on a global scale.

Beyoncé’s Love And Respect For HBCUs

#Beychella — which spanned two consecutive weekends of Coachella’s annual festival — was inspired by elements of HBCU homecomings, so it was no surprise when the singer revealed she always wanted to attend one. “I grew up in Houston, Texas visiting Prairie View. We rehearsed at TSU [Texas Southern University] for many years in Third Ward, and I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher.” Brief vignettes in the film showcased marching bands, drumlines and the majorettes from notable HBCUs that comprise of the black homecoming experience. In the concert flick, one of the dancers affectionately states, “Homecoming for an HBCU is the Super Bowl. It is the Coachella.” However, beyond the outfits that sport a direct resemblance to Greek organizations, Beyoncé communicated an important message that remains a focal point in the film: “There is something incredibly important about the HBCU experience that must be celebrated and protected.”

The Familiar Faces

Despite being joined by hundreds of dancers, musicians and singers on-stage, the entertainer was joined by some familiar faces to share the monumental moment with her. While making a minor appearance in the documentary, her husband and rapper/mogul Jay-Z came out to perform “Deja Vu” with his wife. Next, fans were blessed by the best trio to ever do it as Kelly and Michelle joined the singer with renditions of their hit singles including “Say My Name,” “Soldier,” and more. On top of this star-studded list, Solange Knowles graced the “Beychella” stage and playfully danced with her older sister to the infectious “Get Me Bodied.”

Her Balance Of Being A Mother And A Star

Originally slated to headline the annual festival in 2017, the singer notes that she “got pregnant unexpectedly...and it ended up being twins.” Suffering from preeclampsia, high blood pressure, toxemia and undergoing an emergency C-section, the entertainer candidly details how difficult it was adjusting post-partum and how she had to reconnect with her body after experiencing a traumatizing delivery. “In the beginning, it was so many muscle spasms. Just, internally, my body was not connected. My body was not there.” Rehearsing for a total of 8 months, the singer sacrificed quality time with her children in order to nail the technical elements that came with the preparation for her Coachella set. “I’m limiting myself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol … and I’m hungry.” Somehow, throughout all of this, she still had to be a mom. “My mind wanted to be with my children,” she says. Perhaps one of the most admirable moments in the film was witnessing Beyoncé’s dedication to her family but also to her craft.

The Wise Words From Black Visionaries

Homecoming opens with a quote from the late, Maya Angelou stating, “If you surrender to the air, you can ride it.” The film includes rich and prophetic quotes from the likes of Alice Walker, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and notable Black thinkers, reaffirming Beyoncé’s decision to highlight black culture. The quotes speak to her womanhood and the entertainer’s undeniable strength as a black woman.

Blue Ivy’s Cuteness

Last, but certainly not least, Blue Ivy‘s appearance in the concert film is nothing short of precious. One of the special moments in the documentary zeroes in on the 7-year-old singing to a group of people whilst Beyoncé sweetly feeds the lyrics into her ears. After finishing, Blue says: “I wanna do that again” with Beyoncé replying with “You wanna be like mommy, huh?” Seen throughout Homecoming rehearsing and mirroring Beyoncé’s moves, Blue just might follow in her mother’s footsteps as she gets older.

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