#6 LP of 2012-Kendrick Lamarr-"Madd City"

I was hooked by "ADHD," then "No-Make Up (Her Vice)," and then the whole mixtape that was Section.80, the debut studio album by 25 year old rapper Kendrick Lamar.

After Section.80, I tried The New West, and soon I found myself, on release day, snagging his major label debut Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.

The thing I love most about Good Kid is the fact that Lamar stayed true to his style.  He didn't try to be someone else on this Dre produced album that seems like the only true answer to Straight Outta Compton.  Yes, you heard me correct.  There are many parallels here that had me thinking about that ground breaking album throughout each listen.  The boombastic beats, and much of the storytelling remind me of what those dudes with attitudes were up to some 30 years ago.  Now that's a lot to put on a debut LP.

At first it didn't feel right, like his voice couldn't cut those beats by Dre.  But sooner than later you get used to it.  Kendrick's high pitched delivery and nasal attack end up driving each track.  You can hear and understand each lyric.  The angst in his voice creates a tension that makes a song like "M.A.A.d City" captivating.

"Brace yourself, I'll take you on a trip down memory lane/This is not a rap on how I'm slingin crack or move cocaine."

He's not bragging about gang banging, rather reporting what he sees all around him.

"Bodies on top of bodies/IV's on top of IV's/Obviously the coroner between the sheets like the Isleys"

Scary images are conjured, but he's not the one doing the dirt.  He's the good kid in a mad city, trying to get out.  His only hope is through hip hop, a tale we hear over and over, told by the few who make it.  Kendrick gets out in this story, rising above the money, guns, and hoes ethos of a generation seemingly stuck in it.

"Swimming Pools" has become a party anthem with moderate chart success.

"Why you babysittin' only 2 or 3 shots?/I'ma show you how to turn it up a notch
First you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it"

 

Though it's about teenage drinking problems...

"Some people like the way it feels/Some people wanna kill their sorrows
Some people wanna fit in with the popular/That was my problem"

It has a killer hook that anyone can sing and seems to support getting wasted.  But underneath, it's actually about how binge drinking can turn tragic in a moment.

I could go on and on championing Kendrick Lamar and his lyrics, but I'll stop here.  This record seems old school for such a young kid.  Again it reminds me of early N.W.A., Tribe Called Quest, even the Jungle Brothers at times.  Something ripped from the Yo/MTV Raps era, but with newer production tools.  It reeks of Ice Cube, Eminem, and Drake.  It's an album that was put together so well, that it's over before you know it.  You'll then want to play it again.

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