This morning, Kendrick Lamar released Damn., a 55-minute stretch of Love Below funk, Compton bounce, and characteristically dense ruminations on fame, fate, and violence in America. It’ll give rap nerds bars to parse for months to come, and some of these beats are going to pop up on mixtapes for years. And yet, as is quickly becoming a trend, people are clamoring for a secret immediate follow-up. There’s an elaborate theory brewing, and, while compelling, it is probably total horseshit.
The theory, popularized in an all-caps Reddit post titled “SECOND ALBUM COMING ON EASTER. THIS IS ACTUALLY NOT A BAMBOOZLE GUYS” goes as follows: Kendrick dies on the album’s intro and on the final track sets out to die again, making the record a sort of cycle of death. Today is also Good Friday, on which the crucifixion of Jesus is commemorated in the Christian church. TDE producer Sounwave released a couple of cryptic tweets suggesting more music:
Yes, as with all conspiracy theories, this one comes back to The Matrix. Morpheus famously offered Neo a red pill and a blue pill; Damn. is the red pill, with its red cover art, offering truth, but the supposed second album, released on Easter, would be the blue pill, representing life and resurrection. (Darkly enough, the blue pill would make that more hopeful message also an illusion.) On prerelease single “The Heart Part IV,” Lamar rapped, “Dropped one classic right back / Another classic right back,” which people took to mean his albums Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, and To Pimp A Butterfly but could just well mean Damn. and its hypothetical follow-up, which people think will be called Nation.:
— Katlego (@KatlegoKhalid) April 14, 2017
The original Reddit thread has also devolved into numerological rune-sifting, as all conspiracy theory threads must. To wit:
14 STATIONS OF THE CROSS
14th OF APRIL
On the one hand: Sit down, everyone, Kendrick just dropped a great record. Let’s enjoy it. This is becoming something of a tradition: People thought Radiohead’s The King Of Limbs was getting a secret second album that never materialized, and over the weeks people just had to get used to the fact that it was a slight, short Radiohead album. Even when Future dropped back-to-back releases earlier this year, people were disappointed when he didn’t drop a third in as many weeks. Musicians have gotten really good at fomenting surprise releases into a massive event, and as such we are now for some reason demanding that they do it twice in a row. Damn. doesn’t need Nation.
On the other hand—that would be extremely cool! It wouldn’t be totally out of character either. Lamar, like many rappers before him, has a Jesus complex, and rising from the dead would be perfectly in tune with his mythic sense of autobiography. Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, and To Pimp A Butterfly also had dense, cryptic album titles that belied dense, cryptic album narratives, so the notion that the relatively straightforward Damn. is missing a second half isn’t totally insane.
Either way, expect rap nerds to be especially reverent this Sunday, waiting on a miracle that may or may not come.