| Sputnikmusic
 

 

Kendrick Lamar – “m.A.A.d city”

Oh my my.  If only you knew the struggle I endured to try and pick the best Kendrick Lamar song of the past decade.  I’ve been considering it even prior to the conception of this blog series, and since then I’ve bounced between the politically volatile ‘The Blacker the Berry’, the artful storytelling of either ‘The Art of Peer Pressure’ or ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst’, the hook-laden depth of ‘Good Kid’, or purely fun tracks such as ‘Wesley’s Theory’ or ‘Backseat Freestyle.’  As of writing this, I’m still not certain that there’s any such thing as a right decision, so I’m just gonna roll with my gut as usual.

Aaand ‘m.A.A.d city’ it is!

The track focuses in on the violence of gang life, specifically Piru Bloods and Compton Crips (two rival west coast gangs) – at one point comparing every front porch in his hood to a middle eastern war zone.  It commences with a series of threatening verses, “Fuck who you know—where you from, my n****? / Where your grandma stay, huh, my n****?”, and works its way into a real story from Lamar’s childhood where he witnessed someone get killed, even going so far as to bleep out the names of the people involved.  Lamar has been quoted about that specific passage saying, “I’m bleeping out a name. These stories are serious and in-depth, I’m not going to go out here and really, really slander and put my real ones out there that have been in some real situations. Those close to me know what I’m talking about.”  There are numerous references that I’m hardly qualified to elaborate upon (and thus will not foolishly attempt to extrapolate personal meaning from), but I’ll say this: Kendrick is the real deal.  Growing up in the world of violence and eventually triumphing to tell his story, I don’t think there’s a soul who can question his authenticity, legitimacy, or reputation.  It’s something that even an outsider to that kind of lifestyle can respect.

The song’s biggest hook comes about 2:30 in, upping the ante with a tempo change accompanied by urgent strings that add flair to an already fiery piece.  MC Eiht’s guest verses are a perfect fit both flow and theme-wise, and from there it’s off to the races.  Few moments in music – regardless of genre – get my adrenaline flowing like the second half of ‘m.A.A.d city’.  One of the most crucial lines in the song comes when Lamar half-admittedly raps, “If I told you I killed a n**** at sixteen, would you believe me? / Or see me to be innocent Kendrick you seen in the street with a basketball.”  It’s a commentary on how people see him as the good kid who emerged from essentially a war scene, but how they still don’t know the full extent of his past and what he had to do to make it out alive.

‘m.A.A.d city’ packs the intricate storytelling, addicting song craft, and frightening reality of Lamar’s music into a six minute opus.  Other songs might go into more depth or have catchier hooks, but none of them represent the complete package like this second of two title tracks on good kid, m.A.A.d city.  It’s proof that hip-hop can be both relevant in the mainstream and entirely true to its roots, and it’s accomplished with a kind of fervor that only the greatest rapper of the last ten years could pull off.

Read more from this decade at my homepage for Sowing’s Songs of the Decade.





SowingSeason
02.10.19
Wait, Sowing listens to hip-hop?

This was the hardest one to narrow down and, as always, might not be the only song included by said artist.

mynameischan
02.11.19
Love this song

Dunno what my pick would be. Blacker maybe. Or Ronald Reagan Era

SowingSeason
02.11.19
Thanks. It was so hard to pick. Blacker or Good Kid were likely my second choices.

Slex
02.11.19
Hell yes, would be my pick as well as far as this album is concerned

ComeToDaddy
02.11.19
This would be my Kendrick pick too, love the instrumentals on this song so much. I take from the intro paragraph that it's 1 song per artist, but if there was ever an artist to deserve multiple spots in a list like this, Kendrick would be the one (maybe The National too in my books)

Slex
02.11.19
If I could only pick one Kenny song it would be FEAR

Zappa88
02.11.19
Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst

neekafat
02.11.19
The fact that all of these are over 5 minutes so far makes me happy

GhostB1rd
02.11.19
Nothing this nasally belongs anywhere near a "greatest songs" list.

Chambered79
02.11.19
Artist of the decade probably

Chambered79
02.11.19
Also momma

SowingSeason
02.11.19
Definitely rapper/hip-hop artist of the decade for sure.

Rowan5215
02.11.19
...he's no Earl but he's good

ADHD or Kush & Corinthians still his best songs imo, nice writeup

ProjectFreak
02.11.19
I somehow have only listened to TPAB and DAMN but I think Blacker the Berry is his best, hands down. Great writeup though

SowingSeason
02.11.19
Thanks Rowan/Project. Project, you need to get on GKMC, far and away his best.

nolerthebowler
02.13.19
I'm digging the fact that there's no brand new (yet)

great song, sing about me and swimming pools are better

nolerthebowler
02.13.19
"...he's not Earl but he's good"

puke

SowingSeason
02.13.19
Well the only brand new album released the past decade was Science Fiction and out of that I'd say the two most viable songs for a decade list are In The Water or Lit Me Up. One of those might make it eventually, but there's plenty of more important stuff to get to first.

nolerthebowler
02.13.19
Lit Me Up is absolutely in my top 10, maybe even 5

SowingSeason
02.13.19
Agreed, same here. But about KL, I considered Sing About Me but IMO it's more of a lyrical contender than musical, maad city has a lot more going on. Swimming Pools is fun but I never thought it was more than that.

You need to be logged in to post a comment
Login | Register

STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy