Kendrick Lamar Debut Album a Must Have
Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s album, “good kid m.A.A.d city,” has received great praise from critics and fans alike ever since its release on October 22. This album is the first for the 25-year-old rapper from Compton. With this he has not only impressed rap fans, but has greatly expanded on his already growing fan base.
This album is very personal and gives listeners a play by play of the important events of Lamar’s life. From the many struggles he has faced growing up in a city where gang violence and drugs are extremely prevalent, Kendrick Lamar has shaped who he is as an artist. As you listen to this album, you get a sense of what life was like for Lamar, starting out as a “good kid,” and then falling into the pressures of his environment “m.A.A.d city.”
Kendrick’s rap style is very unique as his voice constantly changes from low to high on tracks. The ways in which he constantly modulates his voice across verses and bridges is something that he is able to use in enhancing his storytelling ability on songs. On this album, Kendrick collaborates with some of the top rap artists in the game, including Drake and Dr. Dre. This has greatly enhanced the album as Kendrick was able to mix in some of these well known artists with a few lesser known artists to help the album become popular, but also not too mainstream.
The bottom line here is that this album is a must have if you are a fan of rap music. This album has been compared to some of the best, such as Tupac’s “All Eyes on Me,” and Snoop Dogg’s “Doggystyle.” Even if you have not become a fan of Kendrick’s unconventional flow, you soon will after listening to this. The album is available on iTunes and wherever CD’s are sold.
Now, here is a track by track review of “good kid m.A.A.d city.”
1. Sherane a.k.a. Master Splinter’s Daughter- Kendrick starts off the album with a slow song about a girl he had a sexually driven relationship with back in Compton. The song is from the perspective of Lamar at 17 years old. The slow steady beat and low tone in Lamar’s voice set the tone for what the album will be like. He tells the story of a girl with whom he had a relationship with back in Compton. The track ends abruptly with two guys with black hoodies coming out of a car in front of Kendrick and Sherane. This was a great way to start off the album and ease listeners into what they are about to hear.
2. B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe- In this more upbeat track, Kendrick talks about showing his music, and not letting his past mistakes hold him back from doing this. With female vocals in the background, this song pops out to listeners as you can just get an idea of what type of thoughts Kendrick has in his head and wants to get out. Of course, he acknowledges that he is not perfect as he says “I am a sinner, who’s probably going to sin again.”
3. Backseat Freestyle- On this track, Kendrick gives listeners an idea of the aspirations he had at a young age. This song is in the perspective of him as a teen in the backseat of a car with his friends just freestyling about what he wanted to accomplish. This track is my personal favorite as Kendrick constantly changes his voice from high to low throughout the freestyle. He starts out screaming “Martin had a dream! Kendrick has a dream!” This is of course alluding to Martin Luther King Jr. and how he worked towards his dreams. After listening to this track, you get the idea that Kendrick had a desire early on to achieve more than most at that point in life.
4. The Art of Peer Pressure- In this song, Kendrick depicts how his character changed when he was around his friends. He shows this as the beat turns from smooth in the beginning of the song, to sinister later on. Later on in the song, Kendrick begins to tell the story of a planned robbery that he and his friends committed. He does this by playing a few sound bites in the song, which give a clear idea of what type of people his “homies,” were. He let it be known that while he did some very regrettable actions, those actions do not define his character.
5. Money Trees (Feat. Jay Rock)- Money Trees is all about how Kendrick has transitioned from his past life, filled with drugs and gang violence, to his current lifestyle of “hustling all day, this a way, that a way, through canals and alley ways, just to say, money trees is the perfect place for shade.” The slow beat mixed with a higher pitched voice from Kendrick mixes perfectly. Kendrick also included a verse from Jay Rock on this track. Kendrick started out touring with him so this was a perfect way to pay homage to him for giving him an opportunity early on. Jay Rock also happens to spit a very deep verse about his life growing up in the hood. That provides a nice transition from Kendrick’s verses.
6. Poetic Justice (Feat. Drake)- With the use of a sample of Janet Jackson’s “Any Time, Any Place,” Kendrick continues on about his relationship with Sherane. This song seems to be the most popular off of the album thus far. Of course putting Drake on a track certainly boosts the song’s popularity as he has been a steady fixture in the rap game for the past three years. Kendrick’s verses are extremely well done including one in which he says “Love is not just a verb, it’s you looking in the mirror.” That seems to show the love Kendrick had for Sherane. Drake also spits a verse about a love story of his own which just adds another powerful element to the song.
7. good kid- Kendrick once again mentions the trouble he had with being a “good kid,” growing up in the gang infested city of Compton. On the first verse, he immediately starts in on the internal struggle of overcoming the pressures of his friends to get involved with gang-banging. This is told as he raps, "I got ate alive yesterday/ I got animosity building/ It's probably big as a building/ Me jumping off of the roof/ Is just me playing it safe/ But what am i supposed to do?/ When the topic is red or blue.”
8. m.A.A.d city (Feat. MC Eiht)- After listening to this, you get a sense that Kendrick has lost all hope as he has fully immersed himself in the drug ridden and violent lifestyle of gangs in Compton. He explains all about how Compton turned into something he didn’t want to be. This was evident as he rapped about how "I live inside the belly of the rough/ Compton, U.S.A./Made me an Angel on Angel Dust."
9. Swimming Pools (Drank)- This track was first released as a single back in August and has been at the top of the charts ever since. This song characterizes an internal battle between Kendrick and his conscious. The song is instantly recognizable by its hook in which a deep voice says “Pour up, Head Shot, Sit Down, Stand Up, Pass Out, Wake Up, Faded, Faded.” Each of these commands are followed by Kendrick saying “Drank,” in a higher pitched voice. Even though this song has become very mainstream, it is one of the deeper tracks on the album and something that appeals to all types of listeners.
10. Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst- At twelve minutes, this song is by far the longest one on the album. While for most people, songs this long are hard to listen to, Kendrick makes this one an exception. “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” can be divided into two parts meaning wise. In the first half, Kendrick goes through a summary of the harsh reality of his life up to that point. In the second half, he finally comes to the realization that he needs to get out of this dangerous lifestyle if he ever wants to achieve his dreams. The change from a piano background in the first half, to female vocals in the second half, is a great transition and exemplifies what Kendrick is trying to say on this song.
11. Real (Feat. Anna Wise)- This is all about Kendrick figuring out what is “real,” to him. He goes through this as he talks about himself and who he has loved throughout his life. The vocals of Anna Wise go along perfectly with the verses of Kendrick. There is an interesting skit at the end of the song in which Kendrick’s father explains in a voicemail what realness really is. According to him, “Realness is responsibility. Realness is taking care of your mother f***ing family.”
12. Compton (Feat. Dr. Dre.)- Kendrick closes out the album by paying homage to the city that helped make him who he is today. He has now gotten past the issues that were holding him back in life and understands that his past struggles helped him reach his goals. By putting Dr. Dre on the song, it gives a sense of Compton’s past, present, and future. With a 90’s style beat and a heavy bass, it is reminiscent of some of Dre’s past songs. Dre and Kendrick’s rapping styles mesh beautifully on this track.