An Autopsy of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘m.A.A.d city’October 27, 2012 —
‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ is the major label debut album by hip-hop phenomenon Kendrick Lamar. I’ve been anticipating this release for months so when the album dropped this past Monday I sat down at my computer for a full 68minutes and 16 seconds and absorbed it. As I did, I realized that this album could completely change the future of hip-hop.
This 15-track album is an absolute masterpiece. Let me explain.
What makes ‘good kid’ so mind-blowing is the deeply personal story Kendrick tells. Each song takes you through a stage of his life growing up in the infamous city of Compton. The album opens up on a 17-year-old Kendrick who has taken his mother’s van to visit a girl named Sherane (the Deluxe Edition album artwork is a Polaroid of his mother’s van). Lamar’s voice darts in and out of a bass heavy beat as he explores this young love. ‘Sherane’ is interrupted by the first of several voice mail recordings that outline the album’s structure: Kendrick’s mother, rambling into his phone and pleading for him to return her car. These voicemails appear throughout the recording, reinforcing that ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ is homage to the grounding power of his family; the only thing holding Lamar back from the rift of gang violence that threatens to consume him throughout the album. Lamar revealed at one point earlier this year the deeper meaning of the album title. The acronym M.A.A.D has had two meanings in his life: “My Angry Adolescence Divided”, which represents his violent childhood in Compton and “My Angel’s on Angel Dust”, a reference to his use of the drug PCP.
The outstanding musical collaborations on the album (Jay Rock, Drake, Dr. Dre) and absolute flawless production by Pharrell, Scoop DeVille, Hit-boy and Terrace Martin contribute to a near-transcendental experience as we are catapulted into Kendrick’s bitter and striking reality.
Lamar’s lyrical talent not only makes every word pungent but his pristine story telling ability makes me want to listen to him tell it over and over again. The slick lines in Money Trees (feat. Jay Rock) and the blaring soul beats in M.A.A.D City (feat. MC Eiht) take the edge off the private moments Kendrick relinquishes us to, yet the true miracle of the album is in its simplicity: he’s really a good kid trying to make it in a mad city.
Must listen: Money Trees (feat. Jay Rock); Good Kid; Swimming Pools (Drank); M.A.A.D City (feat. MC Eiht); Poetic Justice (feat. Drake); Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst.