Joseph DeVaughn reviews Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid M.a.a.d. City”

On October 22, 2012, Kendrick Lamar released his Sophomore album, Good Kid M.a.a.d City. If you’re not familiar with Kendrick Lamar, but you happen to be a fan of rap, consider checking this album out.

This album is crazy good. G.K.M.C.  discusses Lamar’s life in the infamous city of Compton. “The kid that’s trying to escape that influence, trying his best to escape that influence, has always been pulled back in because of circumstances that be.” Lamar said on October 16.

If you’ve followed Lamar at all, G.K.M.C. is so much different than his prior album,  ‘Section.80.’ Section.80  has a serious note to it, but more of a party theme. That’s where G.K.M.C. deviates from Lamar’s prior album.

“It’s a big difference from the next project compared to the last. And that’s what happened with this album. Going back to the neighborhood and going to different spots, chilling with my homeboys, put me back in that same space where we used to be, bringing back them thoughts, reminiscing how I was feeling.” Said Lamar.  “I got myself right back in that mode and I got inspired by that. So this album won’t sound like Section.80. Completely nothing like it,” he told XXL.

Now, some of the songs are what some people would call “Gangsta”, along the lines of Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre.  His style of gangsta is different and good.  He talks of how he lost friends to gang violence, and how he’s been dependent on alcohol and how he handled that situation.

The lyricism and multisyllabic rhymes Lamar delivers really set him aside from other rappers today.  Here’s an excerpt from “Don’t Kill My Vibe”: “Look inside of my soul and you can find gold and maybe get rich / Look inside of your soul and you can find out it never exist.”  That’s one example of multi-syllable rhymes.

Lamar also won lyricist of the year from the BET music awards.

The instrumentals have a smooth melody and a rhythm that I can’t help but to dance to. The album has a feel-good vibe, but a few songs have a dark depressing note, like “Swimming Pools (Drank),”  which tells how he’d drink because of peer pressure and depression.

The album debuted at number 2 on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling over 242,000 copies in its first week – earning the highest first-week hip hop album sales of 2012, along with the best-selling debut from a male artist of the year.

The cool thing with this album is that, even with the digital version that you buy off of iTunes, it comes with a digital booklet. The cover of the album is of a van that Lamar use to drive, it further shows Lamars past. Within the pages of the booklet you’ll see pictures of Lamar throughout his childhood, all the way up until his adulthood. It also shows his family and friends.

I really recommend spending the $12.99 on this fifteen track album. I was very happy with most of the  songs besides one, and that’s entitled, ‘Backseat Freestyle.” It lacks substance and skill. He’s basically talking trash off of the top of his head. It doesn’t represent the real skill that he has.

But that’s only one song.

This album pretty much tells of Lamar’s come up to fame, and how he escaped the adversities of the mad city of Compton.  In between songs there are audio clips of Lamar’s mom leaving him voicemails, his friends pulling a drive by and an old lady giving Lamar and his friends advice to find Jesus. It’s a story that could possibly become a movie, it has that narrative type of feel. The voice acting, accompanied by the music overall, makes a great combination, and helps get Lamar’s story across.

Again, I give this album a two thumbs up, and that’s rare for today’s rap. If you haven’t already picked up this album, forget Pirate’s Bay or Lime-wire, and get on iTunes, or whatever site you buy music from, and purchase this album–it’s worth it.