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Kendrick Lamar revealed the album artwork for his next record, DAMN., on Tuesday, and the internet has come to a consensus: it’s readymade to be a meme, and that may have been part of Kendrick’s strategy when he chose it. Both the front and back covers feature the title “DAMN.” in a serif font, over a photo of a fed-up looking Kendrick.
DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar. pic.twitter.com/ucQcg0PuzG— Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) April 11, 2017
It’s almost crazy how many people on Twitter had the same thought upon seeing the cover for the first time: Kendrick knew damn (DAMN.?) well it was gonna be a meme.
Kendrick knew what he was doing wit that Damn cover...he understand there is a thing called 'meme culture'— Noah Fence (@TsunamiSlim) April 11, 2017
Kendrick know damn well his album cover gonna be a meme— Deion Sandals (@Loxb3ats) April 11, 2017
Kendrick Lamar's new album cover is genius. That marketing team knew DAMN WELL it was going to be a 'one size fits all' social media meme.— David (@_Politico45_) April 11, 2017
The album art/name for the new Kendrick Lamar is a big day for the meme-industrial complex.— Mark (@merepseudmcl) April 11, 2017
So far, there are more posts praising K-Dot’s meme genius than actual DAMN. memes, but a few examples are already popping up.
Remember “Damn, Daniel,” the early 2016 meme about the kid who made fun of his friend Daniel’s white Vans? That joke was dead and buried, but Kendrick has brought it back … kind of.
new kendrick lamar shit cant wait cant believe he brougth on the man mhimself "Dam DAnbel" the myth., the legend. tbhe meme. the l egend. t pic.twitter.com/wDDqgJAi97— Max Henderson (@LandyRS) April 11, 2017
I can't believe Kendrick Lamar named his new album after Damn Daniel— vetos (@vetos_) April 11, 2017
The “DAMN.” meme can also be used to comment on legitimately shocking events, like the violent removal of a United Airlines passenger from a plane this week:
Number 1 meme for April will be slapping the Kendrick "DAMN." font on everything first submission for the zero chill internet pic.twitter.com/gRoewmrGgS— Cian McEntee (@cian_mcentee) April 11, 2017
Or you can use the album cover to respond to anything you would conceivably say “damn” about:
"I'm pregnant....and I'm keeping it" pic.twitter.com/Ql7Shlb3X0— LIL DRACO (@Mayberrykush) April 11, 2017
When you look at your checking account after a long weekend of bad decisions. pic.twitter.com/0oENDF1ltV— Chile Limon (@TGTheTruth) April 11, 2017
When you've dominated the MVP conversation all year, but you get a wrist injury as Westbrook goes super saiyan in the last few weeks pic.twitter.com/C2LTNAYvSU— Jrue-Tang Forever (@SteadyLosing) April 11, 2017
And some people are using it to say, “Damn. Why isn’t Young Thug on this album?”
All in all, it’s highly versatile, very relatable, and doesn’t take much effort to participate in—all signs of a successful meme. Plus, it has huge support from Black Twitter, one of the most influential communities in the meme game. Is Kendrick’s “Damn” album cover going to be the meme of the month? No offense to the Estonian dwarf from The Simpsons, but probably!
He could have the album of the month, too. DAMN. drops April 14.
Update 1o:24am CT, Apr. 18:
The Kendrick memes really took off in the days after DAMN. was released. People are replacing Kendrick on the cover with various other characters, and replacing “DAMN.” with other, similar slogans. This heckin good doggo has been very popular on Reddit:
And these variations have shown up on Facebook:
Is this what Kendrick imagined when he picked his album art? Probably not, but you’ve got to admit it’s pretty funny.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.