Welcome to Musical Appreciation, a new series here on Nerd With An Afro where I talk more in-depth about music that I like. I enjoy doing Target Practices and Random WTF Lyrics, but there comes a time where I have to do a series where I’m not bashing certain music and now is that time with the introduction of this new series. For the first Musical Appreciation, we’ll be looking at a record that I consider to be one of the best rap records of this decade so far, a record I consider to be the best release of 2012. Of course, I’m talking about good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar.
Now I’ve praised Kendrick Lamar several times on this blog and I will continue doing so. He’s one of the best rappers in the game right now with his storytelling abilities, introspective lyrics, usage of different flows, and blending into whatever track he hops on effortlessly (with some exceptions, but that’s irrelevant). Plus, he’s been consistent in putting out great records, his major label debut good kid, m.A.A.d city is no exception. This record has made an impact on hip-hop with its amazing quality and its narrative. Speaking of narrative, let’s talk about the story in the album, which is basically a day in the life of a young Kendrick living in Compton. But the story is told in a non-linear fashion, kinda like Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, so you really got to pay attention while listening to the record as there are several essential plot points. We also see the viewpoint of present-day Kendrick on songs like Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, Real, and Compton. All the plot points are tied together by skits at the end of the songs. The first track, Sherane a.k.a. Master Splinter’s Daughter, establishes the Sherane subplot that continues on to the Janet Jackson-sampling Poetic Justice and ends with Kendrick getting jumped by gang members asking where he was from. This leads to his homies (who he was hanging with on Backseat Freestyle and Art Of Pressure with the latter track is where they decide to break into houses and steal shit) deciding on wanting revenge, but it ends badly as one of the homies, Dave, gets shot. This leads into Sing About Me/Dying Of Thirst, which is one of the best written rap songs ever. Each verse on it is told in different perspectives; the first is Dave’s brother, who wants Kendrick to keep his brother in his memory when he raps, the second is Keisha’s sister (for more understanding of this, listen to Section.80), who doesn’t want Kendrick to keep mentioning her sister, and the third and final verse is Kendrick himself doing some self-reflection on his environment and we see him wanting to escape the chaos of his home city. By rejecting the negativity, he’s gained a new self-love and pride for himself that’s reflected on Real and Compton, the last two tracks on the album. For a more in-depth look at the narrative of good kid, m.A.A.d city, check out this article.
Now for the aesthetics. good kid, m.A.A.d city is a well-put together album. The lyrics are on another level. The attention of detail put into them strengthens the narrative and the way he changes flows on each song is amazing. The production is stellar and is truly cinematic. You hear rappers talk about how their album is like a movie, yet when you listen to it, it’s just a bunch of singles about the same shit. THIS actually feels like a movie, with a West Coast vibe in spite of some tracks incorporating trap drums. Every guest feature does their thing on this album. Jay Rock murdered his verse on Money Trees, it was cool to hear MC Eiht on the second half of m.A.A.d city, Drake had a solid verse on Poetic Justice, I wasn’t too crazy about Anna Wise on Real and Dr. Dre on Compton, but they were good. Every song flows fluidly with each other, it’s just perfect sequencing. good kid, m.A.A.d city is one of those albums that you have to listen to from beginning to end to really appreciate, but every song can be enjoyed individually. It has a universal appeal that few rap records nowadays have and I’m glad that it has achieved the level of success that it did and pushed Kendrick into a star because this dude is talented and many people need to know about him.
This has been Musical Appreciation. Next time, we’ll talk about Bohemian Rhapsody.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe-Kendrick Lamar
Vice City-Jay Rock ft Black Hippy