Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid/m.A.A.d. City

Well, I ended the recent Stones Run yesterday, so let’s take a total left turn, shall we? YES WE SHALL!

I bought this record after a recommendation from the illustrious Marshall Gu at Free City Sounds. If you aren’t Following his blog already, folks, go do it now!

Anyway, if you want a review, GO READ MARSHALL’S. He went so far as to give it an A+.

Note: My copy is the 2CD version, with CD2 having 4 extra tracks. It’s the only version I’ve ever seen, in the shops. Lots of appearances here too, like Dr. Dre (two tracks), Jay-Z, Drake, Mary J. Blige, MC Eiht, Jay Rock, and Anna Wise. Uncredited appearances include Pharell Williams, Chad Hugo (Neptunes), and Schoolboy Q.

Anyway, since I can’t see the point in trying to top what Marshall wrote, I’ll just write a bit from my gut…

I should preface this by saying that I don’t listen to a whole ton of hip hop, so I have no real cred here, but I will say that I know what I like when I hear it, and this record is one that I loved by instinct. This really is an incredible record. Every song is its own animal, yet the whole thing manages to flow as a complete album should. The bass is huge, the flow is relaxed yet also quick, the voices span the whole range, and the songwriting is fascinating. The lyrics are largely quite excellent.

And even with that, there were a couple of things I could have done without… and I should preface this by saying that living here in my white middle class existence in Canada, I don’t know the first thing about what it’s like to live in Compton. At all. So probably this stuff is normal and expected.

I am not much for skits on rap records. I know there’s a tradition, but to me, it wrecks the flow, not unlike What’s He Building In There, on Tom Waits’ (otherwise perfect) Mule Variations album. They’re interesting the first run-through, but after that it’s just distraction. I’d leave them off. I could also do without all the n-word and hos crap. I know it’s pervasive in the genre, and I have to assume that they actually talk like that, but it’s sad, because it makes them sound dumber than they are. And I really do not believe that these people are dumb, not for one second.

Anyway, I did still enjoy this record a ton, it’s musically interesting, and a lot of what he has to say is intelligent and well-told. I just hope that, with maturity, his next record will leave out the silly childish crap and move towards the promise of even more greatness that I absolutely can hear in this effort.

15 thoughts on “Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid/m.A.A.d. City

  1. J. says:

    Still need to check out some Kendrick Lamar. I did like the only track I’ve heard so far – a recent single from what I can gather – and from everything I’ve read he’s the bright future of hip hippity hoppity!


    1. keepsmealive says:

      I think so too, about the bright future. And as I discovered from Marshall and Ovidiu, I maybe needed more time with this one for it to really get to me. And it’s good enough that I’m willing to do just that!

      Also, I think you’re gonna find this album in Kerching. They have everything!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. J. says:

        Kerching’s such a great place, huh? I’m stopping by there today or tomorrow so I’ll let you know how I get on!


  2. keepsmealive says:

    Too-kind? Nope no way, man. Well-deserved!

    I can indeed mostly forgive most of it, because you’re right, it was his m.o. here. It’s just what occurred to me as I was listening – they present as so smart, and this record is jammed with great hooks and beats and insightful things to say, so I just thought it dimmed the light that was clearly already shining. Same as the skits, it was OK once… Perhaps I’ll rephrase it as ‘it will remain to be seen if those moments of immaturity will negatively affect future listens.’ 🙂

    I got his next one too, looking forward to digging into that one!


  3. Marshall Gu says:

    Thanks for the too-kind words. His next record does sort of leave some of the immaturity of this record behind, but he was attempting to tell a story from the eyes of a young adult here, so you ought to forgive said immaturity (ie. “Backseat Freestyle”)


    1. Tangled Up In Music (by Ovidiu Boar) says:

      Yep, it’s all about context. Backseat Freestyle is one of the great bragging songs of all-time, because it is self-aware, he knows he’s past that attitude. ‘Backseat’ is a metaphor here – he’s literally rapping from the back seat of a car, but it’s also about how he’s not in the lead of his own life yet, he’s still trying to fit in and is guided by the others. Which then perfectly leads into The Art of Peer Pressure, about the negative side of the same coin. I think the whole album is an incredible work, everything can be interpreted on multiple levels. I never tire of it, although To Pimp a Butterfly is even better.


      1. keepsmealive says:

        Betwen you and Marshall, I’m thinking I maybe rushed this one to post… This one definitely needed further listens anyway, but now you guys are giving me a bit more context, we’ll see if that changes anything for me.

        Thanks Ovidiu!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Marshall Gu says:

        “‘Backseat’ is a metaphor here – he’s literally rapping from the back seat of a car, but it’s also about how he’s not in the lead of his own life yet, he’s still trying to fit in and is guided by the others.”

        !!!!! I never even thought of that. Great insight.

        One of the best bangers; it never fails to turn up whenever it plays.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Tangled Up In Music (by Ovidiu Boar) says:

          Yeah, I think of a lot of his stuff that way. There’s always room for interpretation – whether he really meant it that way we can’t tell, but what matters is that he does things in such a way that the listener is invited to make up his own interpretation.

          Liked by 1 person

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