A Totally Biased Album Review: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Good Kid, m.A.A.d City’

On October 22nd, 2012, the best hip-hop album since Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” was released to the general public. It told the story of a young boy living in Compton, and after falling for the wrong girl, losing one of his best friends to gun violence, and eventually breaking free of gang violence, and making a name for himself. It told the story of Kendrick Lamar.

Hailing from Compton, California, Lamar has released five mixtapes, one EP, one independent album, and now, his first studio album masterpiece. 

In today’s hip-hop, the airwaves are often dominated by acts like Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and of course, Drake. Rappers like Lamar often have a difficult time breaking through the mold and making a name for themselves. K-Dot has separated himself from everyone else in almost each imaginable way.

Brace yourself, I’ll take you on a trip down memory lane
This is not a rap on how I’m slingin crack or move cocaine
This is cul-de-sac and plenty Cognac and major pain
Not the drill sergeant, but the stress that weighing on your brain
[m.A.A.d City]

His music is real, terrifying, energetic, phenomenal, and of course, jaw-dropping. His flow is unmistakably crisp, and he seems to chew on beats like bubblegum, rolling them around in his mouth a few times, before he decides to snap. His rhyme schemes are remarkable, and it’s almost impossible to rap alongside him, even after you hit repeat more than a few times. He can throw his voice in more than one direction, just like the East Coast legend himself, Notorious B.I.G.

Hip-hop fans have been fiending for the next best West Coast M.C. to make their mark on the game. Twelve tracks, and 68 minutes later, they had their man.

Lamar’s studio debut album, ‘Good Kid, m.A.A.d City’ is one of the best hip-hop albums I’ve ever heard the pleasure of listening to. Kendrick has been referring to it as a ‘Short Film’, which even graces the album’s cover art. A handful of the tracks feature 15-30 second skits, which help propel an amazingly intriguing story line.

In the album’s opening track Sherane AKA Master Splinters Daughter Kendrick talks about a girl he met over the summer. Even though she’s from a different part of town, it doesn’t stop him from continuing to hop in his mom’s van and go see her. I won’t ruin the whole story for you, just know, it’s worth multiple listens.

[For those of you who didn’t pick up on the album’s theme right away, I’ve found this page to be extremely helpful.]

Now I done grew up
Round some people living their life in bottles
Granddaddy had the golden flask
Back stroke every day in Chicago
[Swimming Pools]

Songs like “Backseat Freestyle” and “good kid” are lyrically incredible, while songs like “Swimming Pools [Drank]” and “m.A.A.d City” will be stuck in your head for what will seem like hours. And of course, we can’t forget the combo of “Sing About Me/I’m Dying of Thirst”, which takes the cake for most emotion poured into a rap song in… well… years.

There is simply not enough good things to say about how cohesive, and incredible the album really is. While many hip-hop fans will be surprised, apparently, not everyone was. In August 2011, The Game, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg Lion all stood on a stage in Los Angeles and said that Lamar would be the new king of the West Coast. I just didn’t how he would be wearing the crown so soon.

I count lives all on these songs
Look at the weak and cry, pray one day you’ll be strong
Fighting for your rights, even when you’re wrong
And hope that at least one of you sing about me when I’m gone
[Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst]

The album is currently projected to sell somewhere between 225-240k copies, which would almost certainly be good enough to claim the number one spot, that is of course if T-Swift hadn’t dropped her album ‘Red’, which is looking to sell north of 1,000,000 copies. Still, Lamar’s numbers are light years ahead of ‘Section .80’, his independent, and digital only album, which only moved 5,000 units in it’s first week.

Their reviews matter much more than mine, so, there ya go. Seriously though, a 91 on Metacritic?! Incredible.

I can confidently say, ‘Good Kid, m.A.A.d City’ can be put up right beside ‘The Blueprint’, ‘Life After Death’, and ‘Illmatic’, in the classics category. It’s almost hard to write the review, because, well, you just have to listen to the album before you really buy into all the hype. Yes, it’s THAT good.

Kendrick Lamar found a way to take pulverizing beats, slick lyrics, incredible flow, and weave them all into an even better narrative. You can’t call yourself a hip-hop fan until you hit play, close your eyes, and see Compton rise up before your very eyes. 

The best album in five years came out on October 22nd, 2012. It told the story of a twenty five year old who at one point in his life, was the best rapper on the entire planet. It told the story of Kendrick Lamar.

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