good kid, m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar (2012)

Verdict – 9.2 

Following 2011’s acclaimed release Section.80, American hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar had a lot of expectation accumulated towards his next outing. First off, this is a concept album (with many skits at the end of songs), following the narrative of a young Lamar (known as K.Dot) growing up in his home town Compton. In an album spanning so many different producers, featuring other artists, it is amazing how cohesive and narrative based the entire album is, with the guest turns even directly relating themselves. The story itself is at times humorous, bleak, violent, introspective, and told with lyrical finesse and detail, and the musical creativity is impressive.

Although most songs themselves are readily listenable at any time, some songs (especially in relation to the skits) are far more applicable when the album is played fully and chronologically. Almost every song ends with either a skit, or leads on to the next song on the album and the attention to detail is admirable. In the album’s best track, Backseat Freestyle, we have K.Dot in his first showcase of freestyling, this is not a boastful, egotistical track of dominance, but rather one of unearned, youthful arrogance and naïveté. Results in a stellar showcase in technical ability set to the backdrop of a thumping Hit-Boy production. The Art of Peer Pressure is his finest storytelling display on the album, explaining the effects of peer pressure and how it used to change Lamar. “I never was a gangbanger, I mean I was never stranger to the folk neither” explaining he never did drugs, inflicted violence unless he was, “with the homies.” Money Trees contains good kid’s most potent lyric, “Everybody gon’ respect the shooter, but the one in front of the gun lives forever” and this theme is reverberated throughout the remainder of the album.

It is likely this album will not appeal to everyone, but should be a mainstay for hip hop lovers, and is a collectively, resoundingly strong album whose lyrics and narrative are strong and true. Lamar’s father’s message to him encapsulates the overall theme present in the album. “Any nigga can kill a man, that don’t make you a real nigga. Real is responsibility. Real is taking care of your motherfucking family.” And his mother says, “I hope you come back and learn from your mistakes… When you do make it, give back with your words of encouragement.” The messages ring loud and provide a thorough backdrop to the struggles of raising a child in Compton, and even as Lamar questions, “If I told you that a flower bloomed in a dark room, would you trust it?” It seems pretty clear K.Dot has made a lasting impression with good kid and is worthy of any accolades heading in Compton’s direction.

Top Songs – Backseat Freestyle, The Art of Peer Pressure, Swimming Pools (Drank)


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