Friday, January 26th, 2018

Kendrick Lamar ft. Zacari – LOVE.

Wait, whose song is this?


Alfred Soto: A Zacari single in all but name, “LOVE.” lets Kendrick Lamar slip into his most obnoxious mode: the hornet falsetto, buzzing and buzzing its hook to no purpose. Its inclusion on DAMN. adduces Lamar’s oft-overlooked indifference to sequencing and quality control.

Julian Axelrod: I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground when I say rap’s track record of honoring women is… not great! There are maybe ten love songs in rap history that don’t immediately devolve into “AND ALSO I LOVE YOUR ASS” by the second verse. (Which is an important part of any romantic relationship! But also, what a bummer!) While “LOVE.” doesn’t completely avoid these tropes, it’s far more nuanced and tender than many ballads of its ilk. The granular specificity of good kid, m.A.A.d city meets the panoramic scope of To Pimp a Butterfly to create a warm, lived-in portrait of young love built to last. As shown in “LOYALTY.” and “Poetic Justice,” Kendrick’s one of the few rappers who can capture the ecstasy and aggravation of men and women in love without being reductive or condescending to either party. All this over a gently pulsing beat that feels like spinning through space, plus a breathtaking Zacari hook deployed at the perfect times… damn, indeed.

Micha Cavaseno: The way that DJ Dahi and Sounwave play with the swells of Zacari’s falsetto deserved truly better than Kendrick’s throwaway performance, but perhaps this balearic sheen managed to tranquilize Kendrick to the point of warm milk levels of sedative yawn. It’s not his fault he manages to make the concept of him expressing sentimental feelings as trite as a greeting card. You could use that excuse if he’d only had one verse on this song, but unfortunately he’s doing quite a lot of the heavy lifting here.

Stephen Eisermann: Romantic, if a tad cheesy, but sometimes the best love songs are. Zacari steals the show with his warm falsetto, but Kendrick’s verses anchor the song and give it a bit more specificity. Paired together, these two pieces create a romantic bliss that is easy to get lost in while remembering the best moments of your relationship. 

Ashley John: “LOVE.” makes me want to listen to Anti, so I can’t be anything other than thankful for it. 

Ryo Miyauchi: The lower stakes behind the midnight cruiser beat as well as its pillow-soft sentimentality takes me back to “Poetic Justice,” the obligatory “love song” of good kidd, m.A.A.d. city. Kendrick has grown since somewhat. He writes with a specific her in mind than a hollow idea of a woman. But he still provides some lyrical miracle smokes and mirrors. I can’t tell if I can’t make out the second verse because it’s based on a private history behind him and her, or that he simply isn’t saying much. Still, I’ll take cheesy, love-struck Kendrick over his not-so-humble brags.

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