Earlier this week 25 year-old Compton MC, Kendrick Lamar released his major studio debut “good kid m.A.A.d. city” and not since the death of Tupac Shakur has West Coast Hip-Hop been this prevalent to music. After the release of his independent ground breaking album “Section .80” last year, Lamar has risen to fame and capture the attention of plenty along the way. Perhaps the most important has been legendary Hip-Hop mogul Dr. Dre. Originally from Compton himself, Dr. Dre was a member of the late ’80s collective group N.W.A. and founder of the ’90s G-Funk sound. Dr. Dre signed Lamar to his music label, Aftermath Records and nurtured him through the process of fame up to this release. “good kid m.A.A.d. city” has developed into a record of both high expectations and anticipations.
For a long period of time, Hip-Hop has seen a trend of Southern trap music by the likes of Rick Ross and Swag Rap with artist like 2 Chainz. Lamar enters Hip-Hop with a much more deeper meaning. Known for his lyrics and conscious topics, “good kid m.A.A.d. city” includes themes of gang violence, faith, alcoholism, drug use, and death however unlike other Hip-Hop artist, Lamar accommodate these topics with a sense of urgency and consciousness instead of boasting. Lamar does all of this while continuing to appeal to a wider audience.
“good kid m.A.A.d. city” follows the story of a young Lamar growing up in the city of Compton and the events that have molded him into the person today. No wonder the album has subtitled the record “A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar.” The record opens with a recording of a group of young man in prayer. The use of these recording are a present through the album and act as junctures between tracks that add to the album’s narration.
Tracks like “Sherane a.k.a. Master Splinter’s Daughter” tells the story of a young Lamar meeting a girl at a party and quickly feeling an affection for her even though her family is involved in gang violence or “The Art of Peer Pressure” which puts Lamar at his first home burglary after being persuaded by his friends.
Other songs like “Swimming Pools” speak on the affects that alcoholism have had on his family and also features radio friendly songs like “Backseat Freestyle.” This particular song sounds uncharacteristic of Lamar’s music however, this is meant on purpose. As one follows the story this puts Lamar at 18 freestyling in bravado with his friends.
The album’s most impressive song thus far is the 12 minute track, ” Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst.” The song is divided into two part, the first verse is told through the eyes Dave’s brother. Dave was a friend of Lamar’s that is murdered earlier in the album’s story. the second verse is told through Keisha’s sister. Keisha is a woman Lamar rapped about on “Section .80” that died due to prostitution, the third and final verse is Lamar’s own sediments to Dave and Keisha as well as his own as he tries to understand the meaning of death. The track then breaks down into the second part where he is rediscovers his faith and ends his association with gangs and begins a new life.
“good kid m.A.A.d. city” has been the most impressive Hip-Hop album of this year. The linear storyline showcases Lamar’s beloved hell of Compton, California in a way that is shocking and raw. The creative process and commitment on the album is a testament that Lamar is worthy of stardom. In case you aren’t sold yet, the track “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” features background vocals from an unlikely collaboration with Lady Gaga. Lamar continues to raise the bar for not only Hip-Hop but music. 5/5.
By KRUA Music Manager Felipe Godoy