Classic West Coast albums "The Chronic" and "Doggystyle" were released as a reaction to the turmoil in Los Angeles in the early 90s. Kendrick Lamar's debut studio album "good kid, m.A.A.d. city" tells the story of living in the aftermath of the riots and violence of those times.
Kendrick Lamar is leading the charge in the revival of West Coast hip hop. After rising to prominence on the back of his mixtape, Overly Dedicated, and arguably 2011's best album, Section.80, fans were due another masterpiece from the Compton native. After teasing fans with a collaboration with Dr. Dre, “The Recipe”, and pushing the release date back twice, Kendrick Lamar's highly anticipated album, good kid, m.A.A.d city was released to joyous raptures.
Every hip-hop fan was frothing at the mouth the closer the drop got; but few seemed satisfied at first listen. At first, the production seemed mediocre, the lyrics were barely audible, and it seemed over-hyped. But, when given the proper attention it deserves, the album truly sinks in. The TDE talent has always been a masterful storyteller and it’s no different on the album, where he starts off by stealing his family’s van to meet a crush.
Much like the album’s production, the story takes its natural course through twists and turns. Close your eyes and be blown away by a creation of a film, straight down to the out of place, but dope, Drake song, “Poetic Justice”, and the sudden ending of the story leading into “Compton”. The first 11 tracks on the album were just a story of Kendrick Lamar and of his city. The 12th track is the final product, the HD version of the film, where the listener can understand where Compton, and more importantly Kendrick, is today.
In addition to the imagery and story painted by Kendrick, he delivers something more in the album, a message. K.Dot’s main objective in the album is to expose the tough Compton youth experience; how easy it is to fall into drug dealing, gang banging, self-survival on the streets of the Californian city, while showing the inner child Compton youth possess. The lack of features on the album allow it not be diluted while helping Kendrick’s lyrics to truly shine through and hit you hard. Though MC Eiht, Jay Rock, and even Drake have prominent and respected verses on the album, it's Lamar’s low, storytelling voice that you're always looking out for. Though the production at times isn't as tight as one would expect, it doesn't distract the listener from what Kendrick is saying, and it allows Kendrick's voice to be audible enough that it seems like he's telling you a bedtime story.
The album depicts the inner troubles of a dangerous society and how one can escape it - Kendrick chose spiritual growth, portrayed beautifully on “Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst.” A narrative from different character's viewpoints on Kendrick himself - this 12 minute track is worth every second. The Compton rapper portrays each of the characters perfectly, even as Keisha's sister, evaluating his own aspirations to help other people and his career. Kendrick manages to shed every ounce of his ego and his musical self on the track and establish himself as a human being, striving for something greater for humanity's sake while helping those that may have lost their way.
It's truly rare in a day and age of gangster conscious hip-hop for a unique gem of this quality to shine through and define a generation. The album represented an entire city, created some radio-friendly singles, while succeeding to show that hip-hop is poetry. Despite its very minor flaws, good kid, m.A.A.d city will be remembered for its social wisdom and setting a high standard in modern hip hop’s consciousness.