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Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.a.a.d city (Cover Artwork)

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.a.a.d citygood kid, m.a.a.d city (2012)
Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: Mrdogg45Mrdogg45
(others by this writer | submit your own)

One of my favorite rap albums (shit, one of my favorite albums hands down) is A Grand Don't Come for Free by the Streets. The album is a concept record that tells one of the lowest-stakes stories ever conceived: a guy loses $1,000, gains a girlfriend, life happens, he loses the girlfriend, he finds .
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One of my favorite rap albums (shit, one of my favorite albums hands down) is A Grand Don't Come for Free by the Streets. The album is a concept record that tells one of the lowest-stakes stories ever conceived: a guy loses $1,000, gains a girlfriend, life happens, he loses the girlfriend, he finds $1,000. If I were to describe the details of this album you would probably find them so mundane that you'd never listen to the record. However, it's the banality of the album that makes it so meaningful.

People learn lessons slowly and throughout long lives of simple, everyday interaction. People rarely lose lovers over clandestine reason; more often people just grow apart, or one person's hangups become too much for another. After it's over, you learn a little, you hurt, then you move on. By making its aim low, A Grand Don't Come for Free becomes a fantastic snapshot of how real people deal with their lives and when you get that close to the bone, it becomes less a story about one man and more a story about everyone.

Kendrick Lamar has pulled off a similar feat with his new record, good kid, m.a.d.d. city.

On its surface, Lamar's record is decidedly small-scale when looked at in the scope of popular rap music. The album has a lot of the touchstones of gangster rap: crime, drug use, death, guns, murder, theft, bitches and hoes, etc, etc, etc, but with none of the bombast or glamor that are usually associated with such topics.

Instead, Lamar tells a simple story about trying to be a good kid when forces seem to be asking him to do otherwise. The character on the album puts himself in harm's way at the possibility of having sex with a sexy girl. He doesn't usually like drugs or violence, but he gets talked into both when he is faced with peer pressure from his friends. One of his friends dies and he considers getting a weapon and retaliating.

Now, none of these things are similar to my own experiences growing up and yet, at the same time, they totally are. I've done dumb things and put myself in bad spots to impress a woman. I've done things with friends I wouldn't do in a million years if I was by myself. I've often thought of responding the wrong way, the more satisfying way, to people who've harmed me. By telling his own, simple coming-of-age story, Lamar has made an album that is about everyone, despite just being about him.

Like the best short story writers, Lamar allows the listener to insert himself into the tale and learn something about themselves while still telling a unique story. It comes off as simple. It clearly is not. It all seems so easy. Hardly anyone can do it. Jawbreaker could. The Streets did. Kendrick Lamar has on good kid, m.a.a.d city., an album that breaks through and allows for a real connection.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimThe Gaslight Anthem - American SlangThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundThe Horrible Crowes - ElsieTitle Fight - ShedFIDLAR - FIDLARThird Eye Blind - Third Eye BlindKreayshawn - Somethin' 'Bout Kreay'Converge - All We Love We Leave BehindRancid - ... And Out Come The Wolves

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
overdefined (October 31, 2012)

Agree with those mentioning Killer Mike. That is hands down the hip-hop record of the year for me.

Sliced-T (October 31, 2012)

sleepwalker appears to know their shit. I makes me want to check this album out even more now.

PS That Killer Mike album was super fantastic.

danperrone (October 31, 2012)

the hype behind this is really something else. i found it to just be pretty good, but i don't love hip-hop as much as i used to.

sleepwalker (October 30, 2012)

I can't remember the last time I was this excited for an album to drop. That's saying a lot too in a year that has amazing records from Ceremony, El-P, Killer Mike, Title Fight, Converge, Brother Ali, The Sidekicks, Ab-Soul, CoL, etc. Too many more to even list.
All these great albums aside, good kid m.A.A.d city is EASILY my Album of The Year. Absolutely perfect record.

BluthCo (October 30, 2012)

I love the album's narrative and Kendrick is a really good rapper. I'd give it 4 instead of 4.5 because some of the songs are bit too long and the beats, though strong overall, kind of sound the same after awhile.

Babrook (October 30, 2012)

Fucking fantastic album. Swimming Pools is probably the best rap song to get deep mainstream penetration in a long time.

Sliced-T (October 30, 2012)

Some of his stuff I absolutely love and others I just can't get into. The only song I've heard off of this is Swimming Pools and it's not really my thing. I'll probably get around to checking this out at some point. Hopefully it lives up to the hype because when Kendrick is on, he's the most interesting character to hit mainstream hip hop in a looong time.

overdefined (October 30, 2012)

I don't enjoy this record and his voice is really grating. I don't get the hype at all. Plus he says "bitch" like every other word. It's not like in context or anything, he's just saying it over and over.

drHankMcCoy (October 30, 2012)

That's all well and good, but what about the beats, flow, mixing, guest spots, and lyrical technique?

colin (October 30, 2012)

this album is fantastic, but this goes into one of those "wtf punknews" coverage topics.

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