Release Date: Oct 22, 2012
Record label: Aftermath Records
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Two days before the official October 22 release of his studio debut, Kendrick Lamar dropped free non-album cut The Heart Part 3. It's autobiographical, ferociously rapped and ends with "Will you let hip-hop die on October 22?" That's a quaint idea, weirdly (perhaps disingenuously?) espoused by Lamar, who misses the idea that rapping well - not just buying records - will ensure its survival. That said, Lamar's invincible on good kid, and reveals just how deft his hand is.
?They waitin’ on Kendrick like the first and the 15th,” goes Kendrick Lamar on his new album, and he?s right. After a long string of mixtapes and last year?s independently released LP Section.80, the 25-year-old Compton rapper signed with Aftermath/Interscope and began work on his major-label debut proper, good kid, m.A.A.d city, one of the year’s most rapturously anticipated full-lengths. But not only have ?they? ? rap fans in general, let?s postulate ? been waiting on Lamar himself, they?ve also been waiting on what he is.
In delivering one of the most striking hip-hop major label debuts in recent memory, Kendrick Lamar has not only put himself at the forefront of the West coast revival, but in position to be a highly influential player in the music's future. Lamar's inimitable artistry and self-assurance have been on display for a while now, but good kid, m.A.A.d. city is the uncompromising documentation of that treacherous journey of self-discovery.
The title "Next Big Rapper" has been a curse as often as a blessing. But on the major-label debut by Dr. Dre protégé Kendrick Lamar, the Compton, California, MC wears it lightly, like a favorite hoodie. The album opens as if in midsentence, in brisk conversational mode – "I met her at the house party on El Segundo and Central" – and never slows, gusting through dense narratives and thickets of internal rhymes.
good kid, m.A.A.d city is an album by a 25-year-old about being 17. It’s about him remembering, sometimes whimsically, and other times wincingly, his own tortuous, ugly, and sudden journey to adulthood. It’s about provincial soundtracks to universal experiences. It’s about peer pressure and trouble at home.
The first sound we hear on good kid, m.A.A.d. city is a prayer: "Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving us with your precious blood," voices murmur, evoking a family dinner gathering. The album's cover art, a grubby Polaroid, provides a visual prompt for the scene: Baby Kendrick dangles off an uncle's knee in front of a squat kitchen table displaying a 40-ounce and Lamar's baby bottle.
Hip-hop debuts don't come much more "highly anticipated" than Kendrick Lamar's. A series of killer mixtapes displayed his talent for thought-provoking street lyrics delivered with an attention-grabbing flow, and then there was his membership in the Black Hippy crew with his brethren Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Rock all issuing solo releases that pleased the "true hip-hop" set, setting the stage for a massive fourth and final. Top it off with a pre-release XXL Magazine cover that he shared with his label boss and all-around legend Dr.
Due to its spoken word, rhythm-based nature, hip-hop has been a primary home for musical storytellers ever since Kool G Rap, Chuck D and Rakim posited that MCs were authors and DJs provided the paper. “I start to think / and then I sink / into the paper, like I was ink,” Rakim said, and thus the game was changed. Nas arguably perfected this idea, cutting a nine-song album in 1994 with five different producers that came across as intensely singular, as though the MCs will and vision could enact marshall law on disparate sonics and attitudes, coalescing a fractured state of mind into one that represented a particular time and place.
Kendrick Lamar lacks the magnetic charisma of some of his contemporaries—the captivating braggadocio of A$AP Rocky, the feral energy of Tyler, the Creator—and he occasionally trips over his tongue trying to articulate his complex, socially conscious ideas. But with Good Kid, M. A.
You used to know where you were when it came to breaking an artist. They’d maybe release a few singles or EPs and when the album was just about ready, the promotional juggernaut would rumble into life. If just enough excitement had been generated, you’d get a few weeks of people clamouring for the record before its release, hungrily sinking their teeth into any review or snippet of information they could get.
Kendrick Lamar is a meticulous craftsman – and from its ambitious narrative arc to its fine linguistic detail, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City is a honed and deliberate major label debut. Lamar second-guesses himself, introduces a host of characters and rakes through internal conflicts – but it's all in the service of a neat whole, complete with cornily redemptive closing curtain. Perhaps Lamar's greatest gift is his ability to pull the listener inside the action while retaining an alienated detachment, most arrestingly evident on the album's double centrepiece, the eerie Good Kid ("Me jumping off the roof/ Is me just playing it safe") and the urgent M.A.A.D City.
P.O.S. :: Chill, dummyDoomtree RecordsAuthor: Patrick TaylorI've been a fan of Stefon "P.O.S." Alexander since his debut nearly 10 years ago. On "Audition" and 2009's "Never Better," he proved himself to be one of the few artists who could successfully meld punk rock and hip-hop. Fellow Minnesotans ….
Lamar's major-label debut, probably the year's most significant hip-hop release, proves his talent to be as prodigious as his online output – the 25-year-old has released five mixtapes and one independent album to date. Like his mentor, Dr Dre, Lamar comes from Compton in California, but catalogues his experience of that neighbourhood with a lyrical precision and cool remove at odds with the "harsh realities we in". Syncretising old and new, he's right to conclude: "Now we can all celebrate/ We can all harvest the rap artists of NWA." .
For most of his current fans, Kendrick Lamar’s story begins with the creation myth that accompanies Section.80, the most widely heralded hip-hop self-release of yesteryear. The video for its introductory single “HiiiPoWer” opens with a solemn invocation of one Lesane Parish Cookes (“research this name,” it commands), who Lamar claims visited him in an anxious dream, imploring the Compton kid not to let his music die. On “The Heart Pt.
Californian rapper Kendrick Lamar has bagged guest spots from his mentor, Dr Dre, and his former collaborator, Drake, for his major-label debut. But like the cover art – which shows baby Lamar on the knees of his gangster uncle in Compton – ‘Good Kid, MAAd City’ is a record more about homeboys than celebrity friends. ‘Compton’ with Dre is all hometown swagger, while ‘The Recipe’ (available on the deluxe edition) is a stoner tribute to the West Coast .
Kendrick Lamar is keen to capture his adolescent years’ volatile mind frame by reminiscing, accepting and sharing his inner demons and bitter memories. Even more so than his remarkable independent releases, Overly Dedicated and Section 80, good kid, m.A.A.d city is a true display of his meticulous nature. The quality of precision shows in the music, the lyrics, the concepts, and the structure, making the Compton native’s debut one of the most cohesive bodies of work in recent rap memory.
"Compton, Compton…Ain't no city quite like mine." Like many of the lyrics that constitute Kendrick Lamar's much-lauded good kid, m.A.A.d city¸ this hook seems throwaway at first glance. In fact, as a standalone song 'Compton' is lightweight; divorced of its context, there is little hiding beneath the gloss of Just Blaze's triumphant horns and clattering percussion. Surfacing as it did - prior to the album's release - the grand baton passing between Dre and Kendrick was a sobering anti-climax, bogged down by the occasion itself and not playing to the strengths of either artist.
Elegiac and actually epic, the contending fraught narratives of “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” succumb to two different kinds of entropy. The first verse, a heart-prodding confessional from a banger called K-Dot whose brother has just been killed in a hit, is cut short by the sharp sound of gunshots: “And if I die before your album drops I hope—” K-Dot, staring down glassy-eyed fate, pleading with his last breath that Lamar tell his tale. The second verse, a heart-curdling statement of battered purpose from a defiant prostitute, fades gradually away into silence, dissipating into the acrid air of Compton like a spent soul giving up its hold on matter.
The Compton MC’s long-awaited major label debut is a breakthrough, as he both resurrects and reinvents West Coast hip-hop. Instead of fantasies of stacks and strippers, Lamar spins tales of everyday life with telling details. Over diverse beats he captures the heat of the street and the inner lives of people trying to survive these trying times. He’s preoccupied with money and power, but he recognizes that they come with responsibilities.
Curating the next bass-laden party playlist lodges at the top of any short list for successful MCs. Judging from the truckloads of frat daddies and dimly lit crib gatherings pulsing the eerie beat from "Swimming Pools (Drank)," Kendrick Lamar has accomplished exactly that. Unfortunately, that means many have already missed the point. The second single from the 25-year-old Compton rapper's major label debut isn't cruising for Patrón-fueled pleasure.
From Nas’s notepad scribblings to Scarface’s diary entries to Kanye’s tortured therapy sessions disguised as art-rap opuses, hip-hop has always been a safe haven for self-consious artists looking to express their feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy and fear. Since he was a teenager, the Chicago-born and Compton-raised Kendrick Lamar has been carving out a very specific lane in this lineage, releasing mixtapes throughout the late ’00s, taking a cautious but muddled step toward joining the big leagues of mainstream rap with 2011’s Section.80. And now he’s released good kid, m.A.A.d.
Compton MC matures quickly on this stirring major label debut. Marcus J. Moore 2012. Hip hop has always had a dodgy relationship with California. Though the genre was created in New York, its most lasting by-product, gangsta rap, was created out West. So it’s baffling when its next great MC will ….
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