No contemporary rapper combines ambition and skill as consistently as Kendrick Lamar. He was a preternaturally learned lyricist and technician right out of the gate, offering glimpses of his potential on early underground releases, most notably Overly Dedicated and Section.80. With his subsequent major-label leap he entered “best rapper alive” conversations. 2012’s good kid, m.A.A.d city is a truly cinematic album that evoked his Compton beginnings in incredible visual detail while creating banger after banger, while his 2015 opus To Pimp a Butterfly challenged listeners with increasingly political lyricism and contributions from virtuoso jazz musicians Kamasi Washington and Robert Glasper. Following last year’s demo collection untitled unmastered., Kendrick released his proper follow-up to TPAB, this April’s DAMN., a comprehensive showcase of his abilities as an MC, from the glorious shit talk of the No. 1 single “HUMBLE.” to the intricate storytelling of “DUCKWORTH.” YG and D.R.A.M. open.