Today: Jul 16, 2024

Music Review: Kendrick Lamar, Good Kidd M.A.A.D City

“Good Kidd M.A.A.D City”

Kendrick Lamar

Tales of gang banging, robbery, lust, and spirituality all circle around one another in Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid M.A.A.D City.” A resurrection of the West Coast, Lamar is changing the sound and the landscape of hip-hop. Coming onto the scene with the Kendrick Lamar EP, he solidified his place as a forerunner of hip-hop with his 2011 release of Section.80. Now, with his major record label debut, Lamar faces the challenge of introducing himself to the masses while keeping his original fan base. This is the defining moment in any artist’s life that’s trying to make the jump from independent to a major label.

With an unprecedented ascent to the top, reviving the West Coast Hip Hop scene, planting his position in music, releasing his major label debut, and topping Section.80, Lamar is in a unique position. Will Lamar change his style to conform to the radio friendly styles of the music industry, or will he keep his musical style that garnered rave reviews and a cult following?

There’s no doubt that Lamar is something new and refreshing to the stale sound of mainstream Hip Hop. He has an ability to take opposing ideas and interweave them into his music like on the album’s single, “Swimming Pools (Drank),” where Lamar takes alcohol and partying and flips it into an anti-drinking track. This ability to bring together foreign ideas like gang banging, religion, free will, drugs, family, and education is what diversifies his music. With GKMD, Lamar challenges the reasons for gang banging with cynicism: an endless cycle of killing. Lamar asks when will it be over with tracks like “Sing About Me/ I’m Dying of Thirst.”

A current commentary of the West Coast’s urban cities, GKMC is a cinematic experience with skits that string together tracks to form a storyline that revolves around Kendrick and a girl named Sherane. Beyond his lyrical abilities is his story telling. Lamar opens the album with a foreshadowing of events to come; his parents constantly call looking for Lamar and his safety, and throughout the album we get a glimpse of the good and bad of living in the streets with the “homies.”

“Good Kid M.A.A.D City” has many twists and turns, but each leads to a track that leaves impressions. Whether it be the message, the flow, or the production, GKMC uses music as a catalyst to raise the bar in hip-hop. Top notch production on tracks like “Backstreet Freestyle,” allow Kendrick to viscously spit at the opposition, and effortlessly flow over “M.A.A.D City,” almost becoming spoken words in the second half of the track.

It’s been a while since anyone has had this much buzz in hip-hop, and even with so much buzz as a newcomer, Lamar has been able to command and demand attention. His message, above anything else, is what’s needed in today’s hip-hop of materialism and narcissism. The West Coast has already crowned Lamar as the King of West. He conjures up comparisons to Tupac, and like Shakur, is considered a savior of hip-hop. “Good Kid M.A.A.D City” sends a message of making it out while you’re “dying of thirst.” Grab a copy because church is now in session.

4.5 out of 5 owls

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