Good Kid, M.A.A.d City by Kendrick Lamar
This album is the most amazing example of the possibilities of storytelling. Kendrick Lamar, the 25-year-old out of Compton, California, captivated the rap world with his mixtape, Section.80, last year, and now returns bigger than ever with his major label debut, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.”
“Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” is like a Hollywood movie that leaves you speechless once the final credits roll. It tells the story of growing up around drugs, gangs, violence, and sex. He tells this story with voicemail interludes, character skits, and flawless rhymes. Kendrick shows that he is more than simply a rapper on this album. He’s an actor. He plays characters in his story, and most importantly, he uses the fundamentals of voice acting; pitch, stress, and juncture.
The story of the album is pushed to its limits with Kendrick’s tremendous acting skills. We begin the album perceiving Kendrick as an ignorant 16-year-old who easily falls to peer pressure, and has lustful desires.
As the album progresses and the story builds to its climax, we see Kendrick realizing his wrongs. For example, when Kendrick is gasping, and rapping in a frightened tone after almost getting shot in the track “M.A.A.D. City,” you begin to see a positive side to young Kendrick. He shows us what his life was like growing up beginning with a loud-mouthed Kendrick progressing to a calm and mature Kendrick that rap fans have grown to know over the past year. Kendrick stars in his short movie, and paints a vivid picture of what growing up in Compton was like for his audience .
Another trait that Kendrick brings to the table that sets this album apart from other rap albums is its simplicity. Kendrick shows us Compton in a relatable way. Simplicity has been something Kendrick has always incorporated in his rhymes, and for good reason. He wants to make an impact on the public with his verses. He doesn’t want people to think about deeper meanings, or try to decipher what he might be saying. He puts it all out there for us to hear, and for us to know that there is a different world that isn’t safe in our country.
Kendrick flawlessly shows us the turmoil of growing up in Compton, or any city like it, through his detailed stories and simple lyrics. And he does all this in an entertaining way. When “Compton” plays at the end, it feels like the credits of a Hollywood movie beginning to roll symbolizing the end of a work of art. That’s exactly what this album is. A work of art that shows us what it’s like to be a good kid in a mad city.
Favorite track: “Sing For Me/I’m Dying of Thirst.” Least favorite track: None of them.