Review Summary: A shallow album besides "Good Kid" and "Dying of Thrist"
This is a decent pop-rap album but is disgustingly overrated. The lyrics are contradictory and/or just plain awful at times, Interscope had a negative influence on the sound of this album, and it takes a huge amount of skits to give the songs enough context to make sense.
Kendrick has a nice technique to his rhymes and catchy voice variations. The beats, like most beats in the mainstream, are very catchy, well edited and enjoyable, but many seem to have some kind of plastic feel to them: like they were mass-produced and then tested repeatedly with trial and error. The middle tracks Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, and Sing About Me/Dying of Thirst are the highlights of this album. Here the singing/choruses aren't overdone and you can focus on the excellent rhyming/lyrics instead of the overwrought productions.
However, throughout this mainstream album you sadly have a good amount of “baby baby” “get it get it get it get it” “drank drank drank” “LOVE love LOVE love” kind of crap, especially on the tracks Swimming Pools and Real. The other problem is that Kendrick's lyrics are hit or miss, impressive at times but with so many bad rhymes (see below) throughout that he ruins most songs on this album. He clearly is trying to distract from this major flaw by rhyming quick, with the added benefit that hip hop noobs won't mind because incoherent fast rhymes over catchy beats are all they want to hear.
Kendrick’s voice kind of sounds feminine quite often and it seems like he felt he had to distract you from it with macho lyrics like “bitch don’t kill my vibe” “I’m real I’m real I’m real I’m really really real”. I’m not hating on Kendrick Lamar or anything, some people just have squeaky voices that make them sound like women.
The stories Kendrick raps about are fairly interesting but are seriously lacking in punchlines. The lessons of growing up in bad cities (Compton specifically) are unoriginal to even the most casual fans of hip hop and have been done from every west coast rapper from Dr. Dre to more recent artists like The Game. In fact, an excerpt that pretends to be from Kendrick’s dad on the song “Real” is actually the same interlude Dr. Dre read on Game’s the R.E.D. Album!
The part I hate most about this album is on Backseat Freestyle “MARTIN HAD A DREAM! KENDRICK HAVE A DREAM!!!!!!” on the intro and outro of Backstreet Freestyle, then rapping about pussy, guns and money for the rest of the song. If rappers like Kendrick had anything that even remotely resembled Dr. MLK’s dream there wouldn't be ***hole places like Compton. This album is grossly overrated by pop fans who don't have any care for a meaningful message in music. The album's only real message is in the songs Good Kid and Dying of Thirst, the rest of the songs on here are boasts about how tough Kendrick is, his money or how much pussy he gets.
Kendrick Lamar is an excellent rapper relative to newer rappers but this album suffers from boring boasts in the beginning and a significant amount of unnecessary choruses throughout most of the album that will have hip hop fans cringing at times (ie Swimming Pools). Even without these flaws this album could only be considered great at best, the message is simply not a fraction as deep as Kendrick's groupies are making it out to be.
A collection of trash lyrics from this album:
Ass came with a hump from the jump she was a camel
I want to ride like Arabians, push an '04 Mercedes-Benz
I was in heat like a cactus, my tactics of being thirsty
Probably could hurt me, but fuck it I got some heart
Grab my momma's keys, hopped in the car
I am a sinner who's probably gonna sin again
Lord forgive me, Lord forgive me
Things I don't understand
Sometimes I need to be alone
Bitch don't kill my vibe, bitch don't kill my vibe
My New Year's resolution is to stop all the pollution
Talk too motherfucking much, I got my drink I got my music
I hope the universe love you today
‘Cause the energy we bringing sure to carry away
A flock of positive activists and fill the body with hate
If it’s necessary
Air conditioner broke and I hear my stomach screaming
Hungry for anything unhealthy and if nutrition can help me
I’ll tell you to suck my dick then I'll continue eating
I hit the back window in search of any Nintendo
DVDs, plasma screen TVs in the trunk
We made a right, then made a left, then made a right
Then made a left, we was just circling life
My mama called – "Hello? What you doin'? “Kicking it”
I should’ve told her I’m probably ‘bout to catch my first offense with the homies
But they made a right, they made a left then made a right
Then another right
One lucky night with the homies
Home invasion was persuasive
From nine to five I know it's vacant, ya bish
Hot sauce all in our Top Ramen, ya bish
Park the car then we start rhyming, ya bish
Go at a reverend for the revenue
It go Halle Berry or hallelujah
Pick your poison tell me what you doing
A dollar might just fuck your main bitch that's just how I feel
A dollar might say fuck them niggas that you came with that's just how I feel
A dollar might just make that lane switch that's just how I feel
A dollar might turn to a million and we all rich that's just how I feel
With poetic justice, poetic justice
If I told you that a flower bloomed in a dark room, would you trust it?
She wanna go and party, she wanna go and party
Nigga, don't approach her with that Atari
Nigga, that ain't good game, homie, sorry
Love is not just a verb, it's you looking in the mirror
Love is not just a verb, it's you looking for it, maybe
Call me crazy, We can both be insane
And that’s in the first 6 songs alone… off the top of my head. lmfao.