If there was ever any doubt about Kendrick, the past few years have proven that we're watching one of the all-time greats in real time.
Damn is one of Kendrick's best albums. All that means, though, is it's just another Kendrick album; he's dropped three close-to-classics in a row, and there are no true bricks in his catalog. With each record he gains greater command of his abilities—which is to be expected—but also his creative vision. On Damn, he takes the unwieldy ambitious weight of To Pimp A Butterfly and finds ways to contour it into songs. Instead of making another grand statement piece of an album, he smashed all the ideas contained in it to make great songs that, when taken together, count towards just as thoughtful and urgent a whole. The result means that we have 14 more contenders for a list like this.
Moreover, it's hard to imagine that Kendrick's prowess has even reached its peak. Like Kanye, and maybe even more than him, Kendrick has reached the rarefied place where his audience will trust that he knows exactly where he's going next. He's got the plaques, critical acclaim, and L.A. car speakers to prove it, and these songs are the ones that make the best argument that he is, indisputably, one of rap's greats.