Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.a.a.d city review
The sophomore effort to the critically acclaimed LP Section80, GKMC is Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut. As you can expect with the involvement of Dr. Dre, there’s a considerable amount of attention on this record. Kendrick even landed on Lady GaGa’s radar.
good kid, m.a.a.d city is collection of motifs held together by intricate yet visceral storytelling and skits that at first seem like trivial minutia that’s only purpose is of charm or rather to lighten the mood after the sober narratives but in actuality its the most scrupulous element of good kid, m.a.a.d city. Kendrick previous album Section80 was very conceptual in a similar way stories interweaving with each other but the stark difference between the two are the songs on Section80 can stand on their own just fine without skits to account for their purpose on the album. “Backseat Freestyle” on the surface an ear numbingly derivative braggadocio rap tune laced with a vapid Hit-Boy beat or just a Hit-Boy beat — as a solo song it obnoxious and juvenile but the brief skit ending “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” clearly explains him and his boys driving around listening to beat tapes freestyling. That’s what kids are going to rap about with their friends, I won’t go as far as calling it genius or for me enjoyable but it is certainly necessary in sustaining the story by reminiscing about the past. “Swimming Pools” a strange choice for a single but in the pocket of the album it makes sense, as its sedation for the fury that it follows the frenetic track “M.A.A.D City”. Skits trail at the end of each of the remaining songs on the album bridging the narrative efficiently.
good kid, m.a.a.d city is not a conventional rap album, You can’t throw this into the iPod shuffle … listen to it and fully appreciate, It’s not meant to be consumed in that way. For the first several play throughs it wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing thing, I’d say mid way through the fourth play Is perhaps when the lyrics and its unique vibe totally sunk in — I believe its best not to trouble yourself with consuming it all on the first couple servings. GKMC isn’t pizza that you can quickly enjoy & understand, its rich clear soup that you have to sip with painstaking patience to fully grasp its intricacies. The subject matter, the themes on this record fascinate me … gang violence, alcoholism, emotional damage from childhood, peer pressure, teenage love. All done with masterful craftsmanship and honestly.
On Twitter, the epicenter of embellishment has compared GKMC to a movie. Two of which include Menace II Society and Boyz n the Hood. Inner city LA, peer pressure, gang violence are subjects of conversation on Kendrick’s album so the comparison isn’t totally off base. I’ll say this about that. How about we just stop comparing shit.
As great as some artists can be with poetic imagery, it can never surpassed or even equal magic of motion pictures. I’d rather watch a movie than listen to it. Maybe that’s just me.
I’m getting sidetracked.
Back to GKMC
Some may complain that the beat switch ups are jarring or the production itself is inconsistent. Which I can’t say isn’t true, only that the album is following an arc so it’s necessary in my mind. Could the transitions between songs been a bit better, sure. I just don’t see that as a major hiccup that will kill the enjoyment you can get from this album. Those not fans of skits/interludes may prefer verses as bridges than the skits. For me I thought the skits were funny and sufficed in keeping the momentum of the stories.
good kid, m.a.a.d city is definitely one of the best albums of the year along with Nas “Life Is Good”. This is a great album, I have no idea If its a “classic”. Time will tell.