Up-and-coming hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar released his second studio album and first major label debut, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City on Oct. 22 on TDE Records.
The album tells stories of Kendrick’s life and tales of living and growing up in the streets of Compton, Calif. The album is a follow up to his critically acclaimed first studio album Section. 80.
In the song “Compton” Kendrick says, “Now we can all celebrate, we can all harvest the rap artists of NWA, America target our rap market, it’s controversy and hate, harsh realities we in made our music translate.”
Lyrics like this paint a perfect picture of the type of artist Kendrick is. He is someone who grew up seeing the harsh realities of life in the streets and has the ability not to just highlight them but to analyze the repercussions of the lifestyle, both positive and negative.
His ability to craft the tales of the everyday man trying to make it day by day can appeal and translate to anyone. Kendrick moves beyond the limits of the gangsta rap genre and speaks to the humanity in almost all music fans and especially hip-hop fans.
The album features production from big name producers like Just Blaze (who has worked with the likes of Jay-Z and J. Cole) and the Neptunes (who have worked with artists like Justin Timberlake, as well as Jay-Z). The album also features appearances by artists, such as Jay Rock, Dr. Dre and Drake.
The album starts off on a slower note with two songs “Sherane” and “Don’t Kill My Vibe.”
“Sherane” is a story of a summer fling involving Kendrick and a character named Sherane. They meet at a party and flirt but Kendrick has reservations about getting involved because of her gang-affiliated family. Kendrick decides to continue the fling but as the song draws to a close he is confronted by Sherane and two hooded men waiting to surprise him.
The song gives a fairly innocent look at summer love but also keeps the themes of street life and the dangers that constantly confront Kendrick throughout the narrative of the album. The song has a laid back vibe but soon the album quickly picks up speed.
The album hits an incredible pace on the freestyle rap “Backseat Freestyle.” Kendrick’s raps come fast and with a growl in his voice that demonstrates the grit and power he puts into his album. Past fans will recognize flows like this from his song on Section. 80 “Rigamortus.”
Many Kendrick fans may be disappointed by the lack of features from his Black Hippy compatriots Ab-Soul or Schoolboy Q but the album is still strong. And “Money Trees,” featuring Jay Rock, will more than hold fans of the hip-hop super group over until they release a formal studio album.
The album is a great success and Kendrick fans will not be disappointed with the direction the artist has moved in since his first release on Section. 80. Music fans in general will also find a lot of positives in the album as long as they like hip-hop. It can keep the attention of the general rap fan or dig deep into the minds of the serious hip-hop aficionados.
Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City could be the strongest hip-hop release of 2012 by a young artist, who could be one of the first to save the genre and bring its consciousness back, while maintaining the reality and straight forward attitude that makes the rap so special.
This album is a must listen and Kendrick is an artist that any serious music fan needs to explore further.
KSLC Music Director