Review Summary: His dick may be bigger than the Eiffel Tower, but good kid, m.A.A.d city takes a stance in mainstream rap that has not been seen in quite a while.
Kendrick Lamar is a man who hides. Yes, he is in disguise. And it's certainly not because of the sometimes great boasting, arrogance of the lyrics, and smooth polished production of good kid m.A.A.d city. It’s all based around the fact that he uses these things as a storytelling method. That may puzzle some, but when you look at “Backseat Freestyle”, where Kendrick places allusions of bragging: “All my life I want money and power / Respect my mind or die from lead shower / I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower / So I can *** the world for seventy-two hours”. (It even goes on like this afterwards). “Damn I got bitches” is repetitively and arrogantly phrased as if it were a normal language component used by most.
As I listened to particular moments like these, I would roll my eyes and sigh, waiting for the album to be over quick enough. My views changed after hearing “The Art of Peer Pressure”. At the end of the song, it is implied in a skit that Kendrick was in the company of friends, doing drugs, therefore making his attitude convert to overly-confident and cocky.
The realization comes that Kendrick is not bragging, but telling a story through acting out these songs, not just rapping them. Though the raps don’t seem all too lovable in quality, but they are taking the stances of narration from the first-person view of Kendrick and the view of the present. While doing this, Kendrick weaves a tale of his endeavors in Compton City, which left him painful memories and emotional scars. Compton is the basis for all of Kendrick’s struggles, and good kid m.A.A.d city shows the aspects of how he may have not left behind those struggles completely. Not only does Kendrick tell the story, the production aids him steadily through, almost like a guide of sorts. It is not lazily produced background noise, it is an intercepting element, and not an element that is squeezed in, but feels comfortably at home.
It follows what the trail of Kendrick’s littered personalities leave. When things become intensified, the beats are more heatedly paced. When Kendrick makes a revelation or discovery that adds to wisdom that he hadn’t known before, the beats cease and become more content than in-your-face. The appearances of rappers like Drake are feats that can be credited most un-painfully. They shocked me, because of the normally shallow standpoint these artists take.
The only problems are the slightly annoying nasally hooks that are found in some tracks, like the gleefully irreverent, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”. Otherwise, the album is one of the best mainstream rap albums heard in a long time. It takes a few listens to peel off the layers covering Kendrick Lamar’s vision, but they do not stop from at least intriguing more than a hefty few of audiences. It challenges, and bypasses most of the works of gangster cliches that angered these people in the first place. If you tire of the mainstream rap formula that has been going for a while, have a listen or two of this LP from an artist who probably has even greater things to show in the future.