Last night, Kendrick Lamar released his new album DAMN. at around 11pm, a few hours after an unofficial leak started circulating among fans, presumably from one of the physical copies of the album. As rap Twitter began digesting DAMN. in real-time, Sounwave, one of TDE’s in-house producers, sent two cryptic tweets. “But what if I told you… that’s not the official version..” the first read. The second showed Morpheus from The Matrix sitting in his leather armchair, along with “4|14|17,” DAMN.‘s official release date.
Though it seems likely that Sounwave was simply discouraging fans from listening to an unofficial leak, a certain sect of particularly intense Kendrick stans took his tweets as evidence of a conspiracy theory, like rap Twitter’s version of deranged “Russiagate” pundits who believe that every bomb dropped and meme tweeted is in fact a clue to unraveling the president’s apparent collusion with Putin. Their proposition: What if DAMN. is only the first half of a double release, with another entire album coming on Easter Sunday?
But what if I told you… that's not the official version..
— Sounwave (@sounwave) April 14, 2017
— Sounwave (@sounwave) April 14, 2017
It wouldn’t be unprecedented or even very surprising for Kendrick to release something else so soon. Future did the two albums released just a few days apart thing just two months ago, and Kendrick himself dropped Untitled Unmastered as a surprise treat to fans last year. But aside from Sounwave’s winking tweets–which could very likely be about something else entirely–and another from “GOD.” co-producer Cardo, there’s no real evidence that a second Kendrick record is already coming. That hasn’t stopped listeners for scouring his lyrics for clues.
There’s an image macro that’s been floating around with the full dossier of tidbits, apparently pulled from the Kendrick Lamar subreddit.
Generally, this particular theory seems to be that the two albums will be the halves of a larger whole work: one arranged around the color red, the other around blue. There are obvious metaphors to be drawn toward the bloods and crips–DAMN.‘s first track is called “BLOOD.,” after all–and fans who subscribe to the theory believe there’s a life/death binary also. In the loose narrative for DAMN. laid out at the beginning of the album, Kendrick’s narrator character is informed by a blind woman that he has lost his life. Perhaps the blue album will present an alternate narrative in which Kendrick lives. The timing, with the “death” album arriving on Good Friday and the possibility of a “life” album on Easter, also has fans wondering whether there’s an allegory being made about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If that turns out to be true, we’d ask Kendrick to consider following his own advice: Be humble.
Some of the clues fans have compiled, like Sounwave’s tweets, may turn out to be legit. Others are shakier: he really did say “With TOC, you see the flames” on his one-off release “The Heart Pt. 4,” but there’s no particular reason other than wishful thinking to believe TOC stands for “the other color.” Similarly, the stuff about the M in DAMN. representing devil’s horns above the rapper’s head, which will be replaced by a halo-like O in NATION. on the second album, doesn’t really pass muster. (Where did NATION. come from, for one thing?)
Finally, there’s the business about the tracklist, which is completely bunk. Those who really want to believe in the new album are claiming that the last letter in each track, as seen in the below image, can be rearranged to read “DEATH 2 THE LEADER.” Even if that were true, it’s not exactly a smoking gun. And it’s not true: “DEATH TO THE LEADER” has four E’s, and the tracklist only has three.
Still, the fact that the Kendrick stan conspiracy theorists got some of their facts wrong doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t new music coming. Keep your fingers crossed, and if you think you’ve stumbled on a clue that others haven’t, send us an email at [email protected].