Maybe it’s premature to claim good kid, m.A.A.d city to be the hip hop album of the year but between its graphic storytelling and thought-stripping flow, its competition is as shallow as the bowl of a glass pipe. Unless the game ditches high-on-life socialites and an obsession with runways to produce another piece of provocative literature, the record sits in the driver’s seat bumping Thug Motivation 101. That’s exactly where the Compton protégé puts the listener; rather than add a spotlight to turn the attention to his mic, Kendrick Lamar provides the faint glow of a lighter to introduce you to an inclusive sketch of his upbringing, where “IV’s are on top of IV’s”, “the orphanage we call the ghetto is quite a routine” and he’s anxiously “trying to conquer the city with disobedience”.
It’s far from wholesome but the production behind it, which shifts from diffused jazz soundtracks (“good kid”) to scripts of wounding bass and warped lush tones (“Real”), fits snug with a binding approach. If that’s not enough, Lamar’s lyrical precision will stomp your mouth. His narratives are addictive revivals of conscious rap inflicted with realism, portraying playful arrogance (“Backseat Freestyle”), snap backs to reality (“Money Trees”) and relationship woes that have enough bravado to lay next to a Janet Jackson sample on “Poetic Justice”. At 25-years-old, it’s hard to believe good kid is a non-fiction rap novel based on a West Side story but the major label debut is nothing short of authenticity in its purest form. Prominently because Lamar doesn’t know an antonym for originality or how to simply restrain maturity and though hip hop isn’t in need of a saviour, he’s its voice when the streets go pitch black.
Download: “Money Trees”, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, “good kid”
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