The first major-label release from Kendrick Lamar is a 12-track experience that documents the trials and tribulations of a young man’s experience growing up in Compton, California. The title of the album is a reference to Kendrick being a kid that is trying to stay on a good path while struggling against things and people that are trying to knock him off that path. M.A.A.D is an acronym with two meanings, “My Angry Adolescence Divided” and “My Angel’s on Angel Dust.” he explained it further to HipHopDX.com saying, “That was me. I got laced. The reason why I don’t smoke, and it’s in the album. It’s in the story. It was just me getting my hands on the wrong thing at the wrong time, being oblivious to it.”
The collection of producers that participated on this project include executive producer, Dr. Dre as well as Pharrell Williams, D.J. Khalid, Just Blaze, Hit-Boy and T-Minus. Select features come by way of Drake, Dr. Dre, MC Eiht & Jay Rock.
Being a long time mentor to Lamar, Dr. Dre not only executive produced the album but was also involved in the mixing and mastering process as well. The content of the album is very cohesive each track building on the information divulged in the previous tracks. There is also a short story that develops throughout the album making it one of the only concept albums released in the last few years–American Gangster by Jay-Z is really the last of it’s kind.
The two singles “Swimming Pools” and “The Recipe” have built a huge buzz around this album and it does not disappoint. Kendrick’s previous major release, Section .80 has a completely different vibe about it than this latest project. And while that received critical acclaim, Good Kid is by far the superior of the two projects. When asked about the drastic change between the albums, Kendrick said that going back to his old neighborhood and meeting with old friends awakened the feelings he had when he was a kid growing up in the notorious Compton neighborhood.
The only downside of this album is that it is only 12 tracks, it easily could have entertained an audience for 15,16 or even 18 tracks, and though the Deluxe versions of the album go up to 15, I still would have hoped for more. Nonetheless, for a debut album the overall quality is stunning and refreshing in today’s Hip-Hop.
Good Kid, M.a.a.d City receives a Parlé
Editor’s Note: I decided to skip on a personal review of Kendrick’s debut because I feel like the industry has developed a general consensus for the album, which is that it’s either a classic or it’s one of the best pieces of Hip-Hop material in the last five years. For the most part, I am fine with the consensus, though I stop short of calling it a Classic.
I just wanted to point out some interesting things about the album that other reviews don’t necessarily point out. I think the use of his mother throughout the story is an amazing touch which helps separate the album from sounding a lot like a lyrical version of the film Menace To Society.
The religious elements of the album are also very telling and for the most part an element of Hip-Hop gangster albums that is rarely mentioned, much less used to navigate through an album. DMX has his prayer’s but what Kendrick does is exclusive to him and it will be interesting to see if other artists follow the trend and bring their views/debates on religion onto their albums.
“Black Boy Fly” is without a doubt, the best song on the album.
And is it me, or does Kendrick use the word, “b*tch” more than any other rap album in the last decade?
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