Kendrick Lamar’s new album Damn. dropped last night. Anticipation was high, and Kendrick’s fans reacted to the album the way the internet has taught them to: by dissecting it for clues. Clues about what?, you, a person who is merely content to have this album, might ask. Clues about another album, the internet would respond. According to a theory floating around and rapidly growing, Lamar is going to release another album this Sunday, and it’s called Nation.
Let’s back up. The theory seems to have started a few days ago with a thread in the subreddit r/Kendrick Lamar. The pervading theory is supported by the fact that today is Good Friday (a day that marks the crucifixion of Jesus in Christianity) and two days from now is Easter Sunday (a day that celebrates his resurrection from the dead). Damn + Nation = Damnation.
As with all internet conspiracy theories, the clues don’t stop there, but they do get much stranger. For example, if you combine the letters in the Damn tracklist that appear against a white wall on the album’s back cover, they make an anagram for “Earth led 2 death.” Others have speculated it’s actually an anagram for “Death 2 the leader,” but there aren’t enough E’s for that to work. And on the Damn album cover, the “M” hangs over Kendrick’s head in a way that, if you squint, could look like devil horns. If you imagine similar art for an album called Nation, the “O” could look like a halo.
Another “clue” is a line from “The Heart Part IV,” a one-off single that Lamar released at the end of March: “I said it's like that, dropped one classic, came right back / 'Nother classic, right back / My next album, the whole industry on a ice pack / With TOC, you see the flames / In my E-Y-E's; it's not a game.”
Internet sleuths have decided that “TOC” stands for “The Other Color.” The first track on Damn is called “Blood,” and the album’s title appears in red. In this case, the other color would be blue (which some have pointed out could be a reference to Crip gang members). Last night, Kendrick changed his Spotify profile picture from one where he’s standing in front of a red wall, to one where he’s standing in front of a blue wall.
To top it all off, the idea that another new Kendrick album does exist somewhere was sneakily confirmed by Sounwave, an in-house producer for Kendrick’s label TDE who produced several tracks on Damn.
But what if I told you... that's not the official version..— Sounwave (@SounwaveTDE) April 14, 2017
Shortly after that, Sounwave also tweeted a photo of Morpheus from The Matrix, who, if you’ve never seen the movie, says this line: “You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
The rabbit hole does go deep, and it’s easy to see how fans could keep looking for more. Even Kendrick seems to have planted some clues in the album. Damn is stuttered with references to Christianity, exploring ideas like immaculate conception, prayer, and the apocalypse, alongside stories of major moments in Kendrick’s life. Then there’s the fact that the album’s first track, “Blood,” ends with a gunshot that seems to signify his death. Its final track, “Duckworth,” also features a gunshot, followed by audio played in reverse.
As KerryGD said on Reddit, “Too real to be fake now.”