After a series of mixtapes, an EP, and a debut album, Kendrick Lamar continues to out-do himself. The release of his sophomore album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, was a much anticipated one, and well worth the wait. The album opens with a prayer followed by a song titled “Sherane a.k.a Master Splinter’s Daughter.” The prayer at the beginning of the album foreshadows the song, and much of what the album is about. The opening song tells a story of a female friend Kendrick met at a party, and continued to pursue throughout the summer. Kendrick recognizes that his motives with this female are sinful, but continues to follow through, acknowledging that his faith always falls on the wayside, fading behind his sinful activities. This theme continues throughout the album. He highlights his struggles with remaining true, while surrounded by his chaotic Compton life.
Many Kendrick Lamar fans feared that his increasing popularity would cause his lyrics to become mainstream, and fall victim to the status quo, as many rappers have done. However, Kendrick successfully told stories throughout the entire album, rather than becoming a corny, punchline rapper just to get plays on the radio. This was a conscious decision made by the rapper, as he highlights in the song, “B***h, Don’t Kill My Vibe.” “I’m trying to keep it alive and not compromise the feeling we love// you’re trying to keep it deprived and only co-sign what radio does” are the lines that show his very cognizant decision to not compromise his talent for popularity.
While the album is not loaded with features, the ones that are on it are great. Features include Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, MC Eiht, Jay Rock, Anna Wise, and Drake. Kendrick also samples twelve songs, some of which include Janet Jackson’s “Anytime, Anyplace” and Kool and the Gang’s “Summer Madness.”
Some essential tracks on the album include “Poetic Justice,” “B***h, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” and “Backseat Freestyle.” The album gets 4.5/5 stars. Kendrick has definitely given hip-hop life again.
Guest Writer, Aliscia Ray