The decade ranging from 2009 to 2019 yielded some impeccable classics, with two of the most widely celebrated being Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Kendrick Lamar's Aftermath debut Good Kid Maad City. Though Compton's Kendrick Lamar was already in the process of turning heads through a breakout slew of mixtapes, Detox reference track bangers, and his independent classic Section 80, his first major-label release found him revealing the full extent of his artistic vision. For one, the entire project was delivered in a nonlinear fashion, a sprawling and loosely autobiographical saga encompassing one kid's relationship with his wonderful and chaotic locale.
As with all good sagas, there comes a peak. On Good Kid Maad City, that peak is "m.A.A.d City." Positioned as the album's thematic centerpiece, K Dot's explosive and violent reflection finds him delivering frantic reflections on his Compton come-up. Having grown accustomed to him occupying the "good kid" narrative, his shift into the darker end of the morality makes for a refreshing twist. Not to mention his brilliant use of the unreliable narrative literary device, further cementing him as hip-hop's most well-rounded writer. Is it fair to name this one as one of the decade's best?
If I told you I killed a n***a at sixteen, would you believe me?
Perceive me to be innocent Kendrick you seen in the street
With a basketball and some Now and Laters to eat?
If I mentioned all of my skeletons, would you jump in the seat?