Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, m.A.A.d City

    Few modern rap albums can tell a story throughout their entire run time. Weezy’s “Tha Carter IV,” Rick Ross’s “God Forgives, I Don’t, and “Watch the Throne” are just some examples of albums that act as vehicles for single after single. Kendrick Lamar (aka K-Dot) has reached new ground with his major label debut, “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City.” A roller coaster ride of a narrative and a stark contrast to the “luxury rap” of many artists today, “Good Kid” is an artistic anomaly from the Compton rapper. Notably, Dr. Dre, one of Kendrick’s newest mentors, makes no production appearances at all; the sound and artistry is Kendrick’s brainchild alone.

    Kendrick Lamar is a technically ferocious rapper with an ability to switch between double- and triple-time rhyme tempos without losing his coherence. The rambunctious “Backseat Freestyle” is treated with (fittingly) obnoxious lines like “I roll in dough with a good grind/And I run at ho with a baton/That’s a relay race with a bouquet/They say, ‘K, you goin’ marry mines?’” Kendrick is cocky, but with such an effortless and likeable swagger, he’s rightfully so.

    “The Art of Peer Pressure” and “Good Kid” feature typically stripped-down and ominous beats from Top Dawg and Pharrell. Both tracks delve into the social complexities of a God-fearing thug just trying to survive in a city with no regard for self-preservation. He addresses the potentially lethal problems of affiliation when he spits, “…called his homies because he had said he noticed my face/From a function that tooken place/They was wondering if I bang.”

    “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City” is a project that gets its heart straight from the vision of the artist himself. This album makes a spectacle of the city of Compton in as many different shades as possible: dangerous, fun, exhilarating, depressing, hopeless and hopeful. Lamar has truly created a product that stands out — its focus is not on singles or standout songs. He has succeeded in making a memorable and cohesive story from front to back. (9/10)

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