Meach Few ’13
Rich Media Editor
Kendrick Lamar has many demons from his teenage years and on his debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, he completely cleans all of the skeletons from his closet. Lamar has been known to tell a story on his individual works Section 80 and Overly Dedicated, but never like this. Lamar comes close to making a movie in the listener’s head by providing intricate lyrics, over befitting beats, and specific features.
Kendrick Lamar isn’t a big fan of conforming to what radio stations want, but if you want to check his songs out before you buy, stream:
The LP starts off with the sound of a tape being put into a player, symbolizing the soundtrack to Lamar’s life. Lamar starts off the story as an adolescent with only “one thing” stuck on his mind in “Sherane a.k.a Master Splinter’s Daughter.” His mind is clouded but then he snaps back to reality when he’s approached by two gangbangers.
Living in Compton, California is pulling him back and forth through the threshold between bad and good. He has his homies on one side pushing him to ride around Compton robbing people, smoking, drinking, and breaking into houses as his song “The Art of Peer Pressure” show; but then the voicemails he gets from his mother and father throughout the LP show that he is torn.
Lamar portrays another battle of good and evil in his song “good kid” where he is pursued constantly by the red and blue of gangs and police sirens. He finally decides that he doesn’t want to be involved in this life of violence and wants to jump out before it’s too late, for him.
good kid, m.A.A.d city reaches its climax on the song “m.A.A.d city” where Lamar not only denies the gang life, he talks down and mocks it. The beat, the voice, and the energy shows how fed up he really is with the city he’s from. Lamar sums up his inner conflict with the last lyrics “Compton, U.S.A. made me an angel on angel dust.”
After this Lamar emphasizes on the people who couldn’t change, even after he did. In the song “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst,” he talks about how the people who were living as bad as him faded away and were gunned down. He creates visualizations in this song to show the severity of his change of heart.
The album isn’t heavy on features, simply because it’s Kendrick’s story, but the features that were selected, were selected carefully. He calls in Jay Rock to portray the hustler persona on “Money Trees,” Drake on the more suave song “Poetic Justice,” MC Eiht to provide the original gangster insight in “m.A.A.d city,” Dr. Dre hands Lamar the torch on the song “Compton.” No one outshines the star of the movie, nor are any of their parts irrelevant to the album. They all assist in making an album seem more like a movie.
The production of the album has a wide variety with beats from famous producers like Just Blaze, Pharell, and Hit-Boy to producers who helped him create his smaller releases. There is a good mixture of slow seductive beats on songs like “Sherane a.k.a. Master Splinter’s Daughter” and “Poetic Justice,” and old school west coast beats on songs like “Backseat Freestyle” and “Compton.” Lamar uses synthesizers and drums to create both the feeling of overcoming in his songs and also bring back that old-school west coast sound. The voicemail interludes on the songs also help to provide background to the album, so that the listener can follow along as they listen to the music.
Overall, Lamar’s album brings true hip-hop back. Instead of just rhyming random boasts of wealth and fame, Lamar tells a story of coming from nothing to becoming something. The rappers who have lived and are living with music truly in their heart would be proud. Lamar uses a complex intertwining of storytelling and rhythm to make a story that is simply amazing on a CD. With the amazing combination of production, lyrics, and imagery, good kid, m.A.A.d city is a definite buy.