Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (Review)

Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (Review)

Good Kid, M.A.A.D City is the second album from Kendrick Lamar, following his critcally acclaimed Section.80 release. The album is a concept album, which is evident due to the fact that the cover states that the album is "a short film by Kendrick Lamar". Good Kid, M.A.A.D City was released on October 22, 2012, and features appearances from Dr. Dre, Jay Rock, Drake, Pharrell and MC Eiht, among others.

1) Sherane a.k.a. Master Splinter’s Daughter - The album begins with the sound of a tape being inserted into a tape deck which then blends into a prayer (more on that later). The beat, by Tha Bizness, is very atmospheric and ambient with some unconventional drums, distorted vocal samples and synths. Kendrick spits a story about meeting a girl named Sherane and hooking up with her, only to get jumped by some thugs when going to meet up with her. At this point, his phone rings and we hear a message left by his mother. She complains about Kendrick borrowing her van longer than he said he would. Oh, and Kendrick's dad wants his dominoes back. Dope song.

2) Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe - The skit that ends the previous track sets up this song nicely. The instrumental, by Sounwave, is absolutely beautiful and consists of a laid back guitar and some hard-hitting drums. Kendrick raps about not really feeling the current state of hip-hop music.
"I'm trying to keep it alive and not compromise the feeling we love
You're trying to keep it deprived and only co-sign what radio does
And I'm looking right past ya
We live in a world, we live in a world on two different axles
You live in a world, you living behind the mirror
I know what you scared of, the feeling of feeling emotions inferior"
This was probably my most played song of 2012. Although it doesn't really push forward the story on the album, everything about this song is banging. At the end of the song, Kendrick's boys stop by and he hops in their car.

3) Backseat Freestyle - This track is just a young Kendrick kicking a freestyle in the back of his homies car. Hit-Boy provides a potent, if somewhat repetitive, instrumental that has some banging drums and what sounds like bells of some sort. The song is dope and you can tell Kendrick is having a good time on here, which is the point of the song.

4) The Art of Peer Pressure - After a short, but soulful, intro that features Kendrick singing a bit, the instrumental changes up to a beat that sounds like something Organized Noise might have produced back in the mid-to-late-90s, which is a GREAT thing. Produced by Tabu, the beat is dark with some ambient noises over dusty drums. Kendrick spits about how peer pressure will get you into trouble - in this case trouble with drugs and violence. Kendrick and his boys rob a house, but get away in the end.
"Bragging about the episode we just had
A shot of Hennessy didn’t make me feel that bad
I’m usually a true firm believer of bad karma
Consequences from evil will make your past haunt you"
The song ends with a skit where Kendrick and his boys discuss whats next and end up deciding to meet back up later after Kendrick hooks up with Sherane. Another great song.

5) Money Trees (featuring Jay Rock) - The beat on here, courtesy of DJ Dahi, is one of my favorites on the album. The drums are hard and way he flipped the Beach House "Silver Soul" sample is nuts. The song is basically a summary of what has happened so far in the story, as many of the previous songs are mentioned throughout this track. Jay Rock sounds great on here, but Kendrick's use of "ya bish" has got me laughing. I heard a lot of people going around saying that last year when this album first came out. Great song, ya bish.

6) Poetic Justice (featuring Drake) - Scoop DeVille samples Janet Jacksons "Any Time, Any Place" and the end result is tailor-made for the radio, but it actually sounds good. The beat is really smooth and is perfect for K.Dot and Drake to spit on. As part of the story, this song is where Kendrick is going to see Sherane and actually comes after the first track, Sherane a.k.a. Master Splinter’s Daughter, in the timeline of the album.

Sherane's goons jump Kendrick in the skit at the end of the song.

7) good kid - The beat, by Pharrell, is dark and depressing as Kendrick describes being a good kid trapped in a violent city. The colors red and blue figure prominently into the lyrics as Kendrick uses them to represent both sides of the violence - the Bloods and Crips on one side and the police lights on the other. Kendrick spits fire on here:
"But what am I 'posed to do
When the topic is red or blue
And you understand that I ain't
But know I'm accustomed to
Just a couple that look for trouble
And live in the street with rank
No better picture to paint than me walking from bible study
And called his homies because he had said he noticed my face
From a function that tooken place
They was wondering if I bang"
Very dope.

8) m.A.A.d city (featuring MC Eiht) - This song actually has two beats on it and both are banging. Sounwave and Terrace Martin are both credited as having production on here, but I'm not sure who produced what part or if they collaborated on both. Either way, this is DOPE. The first beat is mad energetic and Kendrick rips it solo, spitting stories about how violent the city is. Just when you think it can't get any better, the beat switches up into a classic old school West Coast instrumental that both Kendrick and MC Eiht destroy. Kendrick's entire verses are quotables on here. At the very end of the song is a quick skit where Kendrick's boys get him drunk, hoping that he will forget about getting jumped by Sherane's thugs. This is one of my favorite songs on the album.

9) Swimming Pools (Drank) (Extended Version) - T-Minus drops a very dark beat on here that starts out a bit mellow and then picks up energy big time during the choruses. Kendrick speaks on peer pressure and alcoholism:
"Now I done grew up round some people living their lifes in bottles
Grand daddy had the golden flask
Back stroke every day in Chicago
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"
The video has some pretty crazy imagery and the chorus is bound to get stuck in your head all day.

At the end of the song is a quick skit where Kendrick and his boys attempt to retaliate for Kendrick getting stomped out, but one of Kendricks homies gets killed during the shootout. This is another one of my favorite songs on here. This entire album is crazy. There is a Black Hippy remix to this song that is dope as well. Check it out.

10) Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst - This song is really two separate songs. Accoding to wikipedia, the first song, "Sing About Me", is produced by Like of Pac Div. The beat is a soft piano/string loop over some upbeat drums. Kendrick spits three verses. The first is from the perspective of a gang member:
"I'm proud and well devoted
This Piru shit been in me forever
So forever I'mma push it, wherever, whenever
And I love you cause you loved my brother like you did
Just promise me you'll tell this story when you make it big
And if I die before your album drop I hope ...  *gunshots fired and verse ends*"
The second verse is from the perspective of a prostitute, who just happens to be Keisha's sister. If you don't know who Keisha is, you can find her story on Kendricks stellar Section.80 tape.
"And if you have a album date, just make sure I'm not in the song
Cause I don't need the attention, bring enough of that on my own
And matter fact did I mention that I physically feel great?
A doctor's approval is a waste of time, I know I'm straight
I'll probably live longer than you and never fade away
I'll never fade away, I'll never fade away
I know my fate, and I'm on the grind for this cake..."
as the verse slowly fades out. Crazy.

The third verse is from Kendrick's own perspective and he speaks on his fear/infatuation with death:
"Look at the weak and cry, pray one day you'll be strong
Fighting for your rights, even when you're wrong
And hope that at least one of you sing about me when I'm gone"
Sorry for quoting so many lyrics, but this is extremely dope.

After a short skit in which Kendrick's boys debate what to do about their dead homie, the second song, "I'm Dying of Thirst", begins. The beat on here, produced by Skhye Hutch and Sounwave, has a dope vocal/choir sample and Kendrick flows over it like water. The song is full of church imagery and is dope. Combined, both songs are over 12 minutes long, but its fire the whole way. The song ends with a quick prayer skit, which sounds like it's part of the prayer that starts off the first track on the album.

11) Real (featuring Anna Wise) - The beat, by Terrace Martin, is light and airy, which is a big departure from the depressing and darker middle half of the album. This song is about loving yourself and the structure of its verses have common threads running throughout them (they all start off with the same line, mention "Plan A, B and C", etc). The chorus is slightly annoying, but it's tolerable. The song ends with a phone message skit which has Kendricks mom and dad tying up some story elements. It seems that Top Dawg Entertainment called while Kendrick was out around town and Kendricks mom thinks that he should take the music biz seriously and get out of the streets. At the very end of the song you hear the sound of a cassette tape stopping and being rewound, which ties back to very first sound heard on track one of the album. Very dope song and the story is complete.

12) Compton (featuring Dr Dre) - Just Blaze stops by to drop a banger for Kendrick and Dr Dre to rip. The beat has a nice West Coast feel and is definitely full of that signature Just Blaze sound. This is a celebratory track - Kendrick has made it out of the streets and is working with his idols. Nice.

*Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks*

13) The Recipe (featuring Dr Dre) - This song is about the three W's of California - Women, Weed and Weather. The instrumental, by Scoop DeVille, has a DOPE vocal sample and is banging. Kendrick rips it and Dr Dre does his best to keep up by spitting lines ghostwritten by Kendrick. Great song. There is a Black Hippy remix to this song featuring all four members of the group and its even better in my opinion.

14) Black Boy Fly - This song has a slower, introspective instrumental, courtesy of Rahki and Dawaun Parker. Kendrick raps about people from around his way that have made it out of the hood and gone on to achieve greatness. It's dope to hear K. Dot spitting about his idols and how he was jealous of some of them (such as The Game). Nice track.

15) Now or Never (featuring Mary J Blige) - Jack Splash provides a feel-good instrumental for Kendrick to get busy over. Mary J belts out an inspirational chorus and Kendrick spits some motivational bars:
"Waking up in a dream
Sleepwalking on another big stage
You never heard peace until you hear people scream
Your name in unison, I'm so far away
From the place I used to be, struggling usually
Look at the newer me, fate pursuing me
I can feel the energy in the air
It feel like I'm supposed to be here"
Another dope cut.

*iTunes Deluxe Edition Bonus Track*

16) Collect Calls - The iTunes Deluxe Edition of this album comes with a few bonus tracks, but this is the only one I'm going to review on here. The beat, by THC, is dark as hell and is very atmospheric containing ambient noises and distorted vocals. The song is from the perspective of someone who is facing time in jail and is trying to reach out to his mother via collect call. The first two verses are from the inmates perspective:
"Mama take this muthafucking block off
That's on the date the day I take the block off
Pulled up and they put me in them cop cars
Please believe me, this ain't easy by far
You forgot you're talking to your only son
Remember when you put me in that relay run
I was racing, chasing dreams to be the best
You had taught me that the very day I won
All I need is you to give me same support
Investigation saying that the same report
From a witness just might testify in court
D.A. say I take a deal or take a loss
I ain't built for all them god damn numbers
God's will, say a prayer for me mama
If you can't then open up the phone lines
Mama just get back at me this last time"
while the third verse is from the mothers perspective:
"Look at your reflection tell me who you see
Who is your protection? G-O-D
No it's not neglection, I have just accepted
Your fate and what its gonna be
Remember all the nights that I cried
Thinking that my only son just died
Peeking through the window, kicking through the door
It's you they looking for, raid outside
Rather see you locked up than dead
Only you would say that I'm selfish"
Kendricks flow on here is crazy and the way he emotes while spitting the verses makes him sound like he is crying, adding to the realness of the track. I really, really like this song.

*Target Deluxe Edition Bonus Track*

17) County Building Blues - The Target Deluxe Edition also comes with a few bonus cuts, and again, this is the only one I'm going to review here. DJ Khalil drops a crazy, energetic beat that has a breezy, carefree feel to it. Kendrick spits about his childhood, which seems anything but carefree:
"I’ve been waiting on this day since Dr. Dre and Pac
Was on Rosecrans in that burger stand at '95
People staring at them in amazement
Reservations at the Days Inn
We was living out a hotel at the time"
Another banger.

*Other tracks that were cut from the album or came out around the same time*

18) Cartoons and Cereal (featuring Gunplay) - I heard this song was cut from the album since Kendrick couldn't clear the cartoon samples on here and didn't want to remove them from the track. It's sad they couldn't be cleared since this song is FLAMES. THC and J.LBS collaborate on the hard-hitting, gloomy instrumental and Kendrick and Gunplay just tear it to shreds. According to Kendrick, the title and song are about the modern day “Opiates of the Masses” (sugar and cheap entertainment). Dope shit.

19) The Heart Part 3 (Will You Let It Die?) (featuring Ab-Soul and Jay Rock) - This song was supposedly recorded a few days before Good Kid, M.A.A.D City dropped and was released the day after it dropped. Produced by Tae Beast, the beat is dope as hell and all three emcees bring it, especially Kendrick who's voice strains with emotion during his verses:
"When the whole world see you as Pac reincarnated
That's enough pressure to live your whole life sedated
Find the tallest building in Vegas and jump off it
But I could never rewrite history in a coffin"
I really wish Schoolboy Q was on here, but oh well. The song ends with Kendrick asking "Will you let Hip-Hop die on October 22nd?", which is the day Good Kid, M.A.A.D City dropped. Very ill.

I'm going to rate the album a

5 / 5

because its a modern day classic in my eyes, no question about it. The album is absolutely banging the whole way through, from the beats to the lyrics, from the narrative story to the flow of the songs. Kendricks lyrics and flow have always been really good in my opinion, but he stepped it up a notch on here, especially on songs like "Sing About Me". If you have not checked out the bonus tracks for this album, make sure you do so. They are all the same quality as the album and should not be missed. Pick this up immediately if you still haven't.


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