Ever since Kendrick Lamar's Damn was released, the record has been the subject of all sorts of fan theories, ranging from the plausible to the really out there (remember the imaginary second album?) But in a new interview with MTV News, Kendrick confirms that one of the ideas about Damn was right on the money.
The theory, which appeared in slightly different versions in respected outlets and on Reddit, postulated that the record was designed to be listened to both front-to-back and back-to-front. In this telling, listening to the songs in reverse order opened up an entirely new narrative and revealed new themes.
K-Dot confirmed parts of this in the interview. He denied that the story of the album changed if played in reverse, but said that many other things did.
"I don’t think the story necessarily changes, I think the feel changes," he explained. "The initial vibe listening from the top all the way to the bottom is...this aggression and this attitude. You know, 'DNA,' and exposing who I really am. You listen from the back end, and it’s almost the duality and the contrast of the intricate Kendrick Lamar. Both of these pieces are who I am."
As to the central question—did he do it on purpose?—the answer is a resounding yes.
"I think like a week after the album came out, [fans] realized you can play the album backwards," he said. "It plays as a full story and even a better rhythm... It’s something that we definitely premeditate while we’re in the studio."
So there you have it. Damn works both forwards and backwards, as intended. Now, someone needs to ask Kendrick about that thing with the Stations of the Cross.
Elsewhere in the interview, Kendrick broke down his video for "Humble." He shared that the clip was based off of one simple word.
"[T]he initial idea was to go off one of my favorite words, 'contradiction,'" he explained. "When you listen to the actual lyrics, and you see the visuals behind it, they fight against each other. That's what makes it unique, to me."
He also talked about the video for "Loyalty," which he said was initially inspired by Bonnie and Clyde, but "a more high-end, high-fashion version." But, he says, "it turned into the Joker once me and Dave Free handed it to [director] Dave Meyers. His whacked-out brain took it to a whole nother level."
In addition, Kendrick talked about his love for the work of seminal photographer Gordon Parks, and the influence Parks' work had on the video for "Element."
"Gordon's the status quo," Lamar said. "When you look at what he's done, fine art, we can only carry on that tradition."