The term “up-and- coming” is often thrown around to describe Kendrick Lamar. With the release of his first major label studio album good kid m.A.A.d city, it’s safe to say that the Compton rapper has arrived. Lamar follows his critically acclaimed Section.80 with a head-bobbing emotional expose that masterfully walks a tightrope wedged between the uncertainties of mass appeal and the artistry of a true hard-knocks graduate with raw unadulterated talent.
The album’s first lyrics are simple, “I met her at this party on El Segundo.” I know what you’re thinking, did he also leave his wallet? All A Tribe Called Quest jokes aside, good kid m.A.A.d city is a brutally mature retrospective work that intertwines the personal thoughts of a young man into a synthesis of women, weed, weather, God and righteousness. In 2011’s Section.80 Lamar calls himself a “human motherfucking being over dope ass instrumentation.” As presumptuous as this may sound, he’s actually being somewhat modest. m.A.A.d city is more than solid beats and clever punch lines. It’s a portrait of a man’s inner ego, of pent up anger and reluctance to cooperate, of wanting to do what’s right without feeling like the only one.
The album never slows down — it only thickens. Whether it’s channeling Outkast in “Money Trees” or bringing back the signature sound of ’90s hip hop high-pitched synth in the track “m.A.A.d city,” Lamar manages to keep his originality while also paying homage to those who influenced him most.
There’s an overwhelming sense of maturity that the 25-year-old rapper portrays — it almost feels premature. Undoubtedly the most promising figure in hip-hop stemming from California, Lamar has taken his shot at history, bearing the unmistakable mark of a destined martyr in the saga of rap.
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