good kid, m.A.A.d city
Kendrick Lamar is one of those rare talents that are beloved by critics but still retain the respect and admiration of their fans and other members of the industry. His sophomore album and major label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, proved just why he is one of those talents that come once or twice in a generation. This album revitalized the interest of concept albums in hip hop as well as the use of dark and gritty story telling to convey a larger message. These two techniques of album writing were in short supply in mainstream hip hop before this album and it encouraged other artists to follow suit in their won work.
The album tells the story of a tragic day in the life of 16 year old Lamar growing up in Compton, California. The story is told mainly through the perspective of a young Lamar but towards the end of the album he writes through the eyes of other characters in order to tell different opinions on what happened in the story. The story revolves around a naive teenage Kendrick being betrayed by a girl he was sleeping with by having her friends ambush him and jump him. Kendrick and his friends decide to look for these men and in doing so get involved in a gun fight and Kendrick loses his best friend. The album’s story is told through a nonlinear narrative and some songs dont directly move the story forward but instead reflects Kendricks thoughts on the events. Songs like Bitch, Dont kill my vibe, dont speak on any of the events of the story but it is Kendrick looking back at those events and seeing how he has overcome. In the album version, Kendrick includes voice recordings of his family and loved ones that move the story forward and reenact some of scenes that Kendrick describes. For the most part the songs are just Kendricks reflections on what is happening to him and trying to get the listener in the mindset of teenage Kendrick and in doing so he touches upon topics such as poverty, crime, gang violence, sexuality, adolescence, and family.
I chose this album because it is perhaps one of my favorite hip hop albums of all time. Kendrick isnt saying he was a gangster or a bad person but more like he was a good kid that hung around the wrong crowd and grew up in the wrong environment which is something that a lot of people can relate to.