Good Kid, M.A.A.D City

Good Kid, M.A.A.D City

Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city is fearless and brilliant, an unvarnished and nuanced peek into the rapper's inner life that ties straightforward rap thrills directly to its narrative.

Artist: Kendrick Lamar

Genre: Hip Hop

Label: Polydor

Release date:

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. The snapshot is such an unvarnished peek into the rapper's inner life that staring at it for too long feels almost invasive. This autobiographical intensity is the album's calling card. Listening to it feels like walking directly into Lamar's childhood home and, for the next hour, growing up alongside him.

Lamar has subtitled the record "A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar", and the comparison rings true: You could take the album's outline and build a set for a three-act play. It opens on a 17-year-old Kendrick "with nothing but pussy stuck on my mental," driving his mother's van to see a girl named Sherane. As his voice darts and halts in a rhythm that mimics his over-eager commute, Lamar explores the furtiveness of young lust: "It's deep-rooted, the music of being young and dumb," he raps. The song is interrupted by the first of several voice mail recordings that delineate the album's structure: Kendrick's mother, rambling into his phone and pleading for him to return her car. These voicemails appear through the record, reinforcing that good kid, m.A.A.d city is partly a love letter to the grounding power of family. In this album's world, family and faith are not abstract concepts: They are the fraying tethers holding Lamar back from the chasm of gang violence that threatens to consume him.

Credit: Pitchfork

About the artist

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth is an American rapper and songwriter. Known for his progressive musical styles and socially conscious songwriting, he is often considered one of the most influential hip hop artists of his generation

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