Kendrick Lamar
good kid, m.A.A.d city


5.0
classic

Review

by IsomerDuck USER (3 Reviews)
January 31st, 2014 | 59 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An album that exudes quality and confidence, but remains humble and thought provoking.

Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city" is ferocious. For an album as emotionally exposed and humble as this, it's something of a wonder that Lamar manages to discredit the egoistic, decadent tracks of recent hip hop with quite as much style and confidence as he does. In many ways there's a sense of justification behind his flows that induces a sickly desolation when others are droning on about 'gucci' and 'gold bottles' - as meaningless as the adjective is, Kendrick is very, very real.

After a disorienting section of narrative kicks off the album in 'Sherane', the listener is thrown into a claustrophobic bass line that connotes with lethargy, escapism, and enchantment. Every segment of production on the album, straight from 'Sherane' to the album's concluding track, 'Now or Never', is masterful. It's not as independently striking as what you'd expect on a Kanye album, but it has a complimentary nature that reinforces Kendrick's ambitious imagery - tying into the remarkably consistent storytelling that persists through every track. As evidenced by the juxtaposing transition from calm exposition to racing beats in 'Sherane', Kendrick understands contrast to a T. As 'Bitch, Don't Kill my Vibe' follows afterward, it wastes no time to liberate the listener from the intensity of the prior track, kicking off with soothing synths and a content guitar track.

'good kid, m.A.A.d city', although thematically consistent, is both ambitious between tracks and within tracks. Songs like 'Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe', 'Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst', and 'The Art of Peer Pressure' are particularly progressive, with the latter two practically segmenting into two bizarrely interactive tracks. Like many of the tracks on the album, 'The Art of Peer Pressure' opens with an aloof, casual breeze that transports the listener to one of Kendrick's varied atmospheres. Where Kendrick leads on from this foundation is what really begins to define each song on the album - though there are exceptions. In something of a departure, 'Poetic Justice' starts with a darkly modified vocal introduction that foreshadows a grittier track, yet defiantly delves into another trance-like rap with mesmerizing production and beautifully layered beats.

When Kendrick isn't providing a personal account that bristles relevantly to the familiar, he'll occasionally drift into more grandiose territory. This is most clearly seen in 'Swimming Pools (Drank)' where a pseudo-R&B backtrack accentuates Kendrick's impersonation of arrogance. Fittingly, Kendrick tackles issues of drinking and drugs by perceptively flicking back and forth between alternating personalities - a method also used in 'Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst'. For me, the track is the absolute peak of the album. On paper, the thoughtful lyricism seems clunky and difficult to piece together - but Lamar's incredible understanding of flow seems to just tie everything together astonishingly well. The first verse in its optimistic sobriety is concluded with "And if I die before your album drop, I hope--" before being ingeniously interrupted by gunfire that just hits on every single play. Eventually, as the 12 minute track approaches its latter third the sound shifts entirely to the claustrophobia induced by the opening track on the album. Kendrick pushes musical symbolism and narrative into wonderful territory.

Kendrick's stentorian performance is let down only by his hooks. Even on my favorite track, 'Sing About Me-' its simply unimaginative. The nasal twang to his voice that seems to be both a blessing and a curse is driven into the latter, and is oddly emphasized in the otherwise thoughtful intro. The worst hook by a margin is on 'Real' - sung by Anna Wise. The repetitious droning of "I'm real, I'm real, I'm really, really, real" sounds like a nursery toddler on morphine, and just grates in the worst possible ways. Thankfully though, most of the hooks are at the very least competent, or in the case of 'Money Trees' add a great deal to the thematic presence of the tracks; "Halle Berry or hallelujah" - genius.

In summary, 'good kid, m.A.A.d city' is an outstanding hip hop album. From the lyrics to the production to the snippets of narrative, virtually every second of the album counts and aggregates to the beautiful silence that settles in the conclusion of its final track. Hooks aside, there's a lot to like.


user ratings (1593)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


6109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

interesting rating

FourthReich
January 31st 2014


17554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0


Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city" is ferocious.

Gyromania
January 31st 2014


15706 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

5/5 for sure. autobiographical masterpiece etc

IsomerDuck
January 31st 2014


7 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's actually supposed to be a 4.5 in accordance to my user rating - but it was leaning toward a 5 anyhow.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


6109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

Kendrick Lamar's 'backstreet freestyle' is fierce

FourthReich
January 31st 2014


17554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

fierce rap, new genre tag?

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


6109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

already suggested it great minds think alike buddy

Gyromania
January 31st 2014


15706 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

it's weird to see people refer to hooks as 'competent'. also weird to see odd word choices like: "When Kendrick isn't providing a personal account that bristles relevantly to the familiar"

bristles relevantly to the familiar? does not compute

FourthReich
January 31st 2014


17554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it's when a toothbrush hits a new part of the mouth

IsomerDuck
January 31st 2014


7 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Can't relate to your comment on the hooks, but yeah, wording on the latter was odd. My point was he
alternates between discussing quite homely issues with broader issues of alcohol overuse and the
romanticism behind it.

Gyromania
January 31st 2014


15706 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you didn't misuse the word competent, it just looks odd to me is all. personal preference thing, no biggie. but yah, some other awkward wording throughout but not really a big deal. review is good overall.

also sing about me is my favourite song too so high five

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
January 31st 2014


9034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Swimming Pools, Compton, Backseat Freestyle, Money Trees, first half of m.a.a.d. City and Bitch Don't
Kill My Vibe all have really good hooks I don't know what you're talking about

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


6109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

i think passable would be a better word for the hooks

IsomerDuck
January 31st 2014


7 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I was a little harsh on the hooks but I wanted to temper the praise I was giving it tbh, felt like I
was sort of sucking the album's dick beyond reason. The hooks were my only real issues with the album,
so I emphasized it a little too much.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
January 31st 2014


9034 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I mean, you gave the album a 5, you should be praising pretty much every aspect of it. Don't get self-conscious about what you're saying because you only provided one bad hook and said 'o yeah the hooks blow but I guess they're ok.' Just say what you truly believe rather than trying to soften your opinion for whatever reason.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


6109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

if you 5 an album you should be suckin its daddy dick tbh

IsomerDuck
January 31st 2014


7 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Of course - completely agree, but I actually meant to give the album a 4.5.

Gyromania
January 31st 2014


15706 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

these things are all subjective of course, but even if i hated this album i'd still concede the hooks are great. also, don't feel as though you have to list detractors because you're showering something with praise and adoration.

Eulogize
January 31st 2014


2969 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

first half of maad city is so good, goddamn

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


6109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

whole album is so good goddamn

except poetic justice



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