Kendrick Lamar

Album Review: Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City:

Every great ‘hood movie has the character who takes the gangster stigma to the extreme. Loud, cocky, fearless and, of course, crazier than Tony Montana snorting on a mountain of narcotics is what makes characters like Menace to Society’s “O-Dog” or Juice’s “Bishop” shocking, amusing, and quotable. But there is a reason why Kane and Q were the main character’s in those motion pictures: their internal struggles in maintaining the acceptance of their peers at the expense of their own family instilled morals was more relatable and even more compelling.

For the BET Hip-Hop Award’s lyricist of the year and West Coast torch bearer, Kendrick Lamar, the well-to-do, Black male youth is taken on a journey through the extreme vices of the ghetto lifestyle with his personal morality and identity in trouble at every turn on his Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope debut, Good Kid, m.A.A.d City,.

After stealing his family’s van, Kendrick takes a joy ride through muffled echoes and flat percussion to meet up with a summer fling on the intro track “Sherane a.k.a Master Splinter’s Daughter”. Upon meeting his crush, he also encounters some mentors who introduce him to the L.A. street life. Sounwave’s sultry guitar licks and soothing strings make a perfect background as Kendrick shuts off from his moral reasoning in order to embrace his new-found immorality on “B*tch, Don’t Kill my Vibe” (“I can feel the changes/ I can feel the new life/ I always knew life could be dangerous”).

“The Art of Peer Pressure” explores K. Dot’s first acts of deviance, with a story of doing drugs, fighting, and robbing with the homies. The track captures just how going with the flow can end up with a night of crimes. Up-and-coming West Coast producer DJ Dahi adds his signature background samples and elastic bass on “Money Trees”, where fellow Black Hippy member, Jay Rock, ventures from his own flow in order to out-K-Dot Lamar out of his own rhyme scheme, resulting in one of the most memorable verses on the album (“Imagine rock up in those projects, swear them n*ggas pick your pockets, Santa Claus done miss them stockings/ liquor spilling, pistols poppin’, baking soda yola whipping, ain’t no turkey on Thanksgiving”).

Towards the end of the album, Kendrick starts to question the impact of his immoral decisions on his character and decides it’s time to get baptized on “Sing about me, I’m dying of thirst”: (“My mama said see a pastor, he’ll give me a promise/ what if today was the rapture and you completely tarnished?/ The truth will set you free/ so to me you should be completely honest/you dying of thirst, you dying of thirst/so hop in that water and pray that it works”). An old-Kanye beat pattern and harmonizing spiritual vocal sounds makes it seem as though Kendrick might have cracked The Da Vinci Code to “Jesus Walks”.

It is rare accomplishment to have such an array of different producers on one project to sound this cohesive. But songs like the playful but mediocre “Backseat Freestyle” and the hard-hitting, Dr. Dre-featured “Compton” seem to stick out like a sore thumb. The Drake featured “Poetic Justice” also seems a tad cliché and misplaced, yet these are minor missteps.

What makes Good Kid, m.A.A.d City resonate so well is how Kendrick relates his own personal guilt of partaking in the street lifestyle without being condescending to the gangbangers who still are living the ‘hood life. Ironically, he even compares himself to Cuba Gooding Jr.’s protagonist “Trey” in Boyz in The Hood – a morally-sound youngster who tried out gangster lifestyle only to find out he would be better off admiring it from afar.

Rating: 8.5/10

  • respect

    I Know that Kendrick Lamar is telling a story about his life but to me most of the songs were average. I expected way better. It was just to much going on in the songs and his voice gets annoying. No classic for me.

    • Eli Pinilla

      i feel u on that one…i was a bit disappointed and cant understand how people are calling this classic… kendrick got crazy talent, but i think he dropped the ball on some of these beats..i will say this though, the songs that are good, are great

      • goodmusic

        you don’t understand shit then buddy, complaining about beats when they were excellent beats but not overpowering Kendrick, and dont like his voice? well listen to someone else then, because he sure isnt gonna change it for some fag like you.

      • Eli Pinilla

        dude, get off his nuts. If his shit means that much too u, then who cares what anyone else thinks. u act like kendrick saved your life. Im a huge big krit fan, u think i give 2 shit what u think about him?!?! who are u?!?! who am i to u?!?!? shut your sorry ass up and be a real fan and buy the shit when it drops. as defensive as u got, i would assume you would wait instead of listening to the leaked version which im sure he doesn’t approve of…

      • Onyeka Agwegwe

        he’s from Cali, he can’t use the 808 beats from the south, or the beats with the catchy songs. like some rappers complain about how people listen to beats rather than the lyrics.

    • Reviews

      This is one of the best hip hop albums in the last 10 years , The genius storytelling and production really has no comparison. You guys dont know shit about hip hop

      • loyalty18

        Just because your a fan of kendrick don’t mean you have to like his album. Some people love it, others thinks it’s average that’s their opinion. I get it’s a concept album and people don’t get them kinda albums no more but the album is average to me. It didn’t move me like Sideline Story did. Say what you want about J. Cole but I feel the emotions in his music that speaks to me. J. Cole music is powerful and he makes you feel it when he raps. I didn’t feel the emotions in kendricks raps, but I get the message

  • So Kendrick’s album has the same rating as Xzibit’s? Dumb ass review.

    • baseforyourfase

      every album gets an 8 or 8.5 on here ha!

    • sualel


  • brotha_man

    kendrick is aiight….just aiight *shoulder shrug*

  • Jerome

    It seems like @ronjohnson3319 got bored on the second part of the review, what happend with keeping the same details until the end of tracklist? lol

  • Guest

    I think kendrick Lamar is a dope artists but I think his album is overrated. Can you honestly say this is a classic album. I do not Like Comparing Kendrick and Cole but I like J. Cole debut better because I feel like I can listen to all the songs out of order and still vibe to it and it just has replay value to me. Maybe Kendricks different voices are throwing me off. I just think Kendrick over thought this album

  • Dre Madison

    Smh i see it now,… You so called kendrick lamar fans are bout to “drake” this nigga already sheesh… When i say drake i mean how you guys split him intp two people.
    , drizzy the spitter, crazy word play, fuckin bad b*tches and sh-ittin on the competion, and drake the sensative seeming, rapping about his emotions, about things that hes gon thru in life that are important to him but alot of fans that was fuckin wit him wit “ransom” “over” etc. yall splittin k dot from kendrick and that sucks because they are one person, to me this album is exactly how HIS debut should have ben … His introduction, hes giving his all not relying on beats to keep his fan base up but relying on talent keep the people/fans/listeners wanting to here more i hate to see you socalled fans bash a great artist but at the same time it seems like hes weeding out his fake fans and i say good riddins to you… Stop takin his music so personal just cuz hes not giving yu what you wanted, if this album is over rated its cuz u overrated it thinking you was gonna listen to birthday song, pop that, or same damn time on repeat… Smh kdot keep doin yo thing the real hiphop fans recognize yo debut for wat it is…hiiipower

  • Jae D

    The album Is cool

  • brollya

    bra u hip hop fans are so weird des days….. how can u not say this aint a classic…. u cry bout real hip hop den wen its in front of yo face, u say its garbage…. no one does albums lik dis no more…. he jus discribed dis cd lik a actual movie….. should of been a 10 rating…. if u dont understand it, go back and listen instead of skeming thru it….

    • Romanov1010


      • jad101

        i know its a conceptual album, so was college dropout,so was chronic 2001. it may be a conceptual album but if the songs arent all good in the conceptual album then does it really matter. an 8.5 is right because compare to other conceptual albums its just not as good but its still very good.

      • sualel

        in my opinion college dropout had mishaps like breathe in breathe out, and too many damn skits, but a dope album, late registration was better.

    • jad101

      its an 8.5 In my opinion that freestyle and compton mess it up for him. it is a good album but it isnt a classic. its easy to call an album like this a classic because there are not many albums like this these days in mainstream hip hop when so when someone does an album like this, it gets overrated. its a solid debut album , but it aint no college dropout. its not even the best hip hop album of the year. el-p cancer for cure and lushlife plateau vision are better in my opinion there just not as hyped up albums. people need to take the review with a pinch of salt.

      • johnny

        its a story!!! the freestyle is part of it! its a day in the life of a black teen in compton. as the title states “backseat freestyle”. it goes along with the story as he is just free styling with his friends. and compton is the last song since its when he has finally made it and is famous, that why he fts Dr. Dre. great album, think you lost the point that its the story of his life.

      • you dumb ass this is a conceptional album, you have to hear all to understand.

      • sualel

        u trippin

  • Young 9

    This album is amazing, a well thought out concept delivered perfectly. And even hearing the songs out of context, swimmin pools, the recipe, art of peer pressure, black boy fly, sing about me are still pretty amazing. Cop this album.

  • Tim

    Album of the year so far, every song is quality.

    • sualel

      concur, deserves grammy but we know it won’t win

    • Album of the Year? I think you’re overreaching a little.

      • Tim

        What’s your pick for AOTY?


        A Dream Deferred by Skyzoo

      • JW

        Exactly, if you are saying GKMC is ‘classic’ and all that, you NEED to listen to A Dream Deferred by Skyzoo or Mourning in America by Brother Ali.. Shoot Skyzoo’s mixtapes kill GKMC.

  • Desond Alfred

    I think it’s a
    classic, and I haven’t been a fan of hip hop in a long time. I am a fan of
    music though, and this is incredible. I think people who don’t like the beats
    prove my overall point of how flawed this generation is, and how they’re misconception
    of what music is supposed to be. This is a concept album, the vibe is supposed
    to be the same throughout. Kids these days, their ears are programmed to simple
    songs with catchy hooks and dumbed down lyrics that are easy to sing along to
    and “trap beats” with only three chords, and are made on a computer
    in about 15 minutes. These kids hear real music like this, and it sounds weird
    to them, different, and in some cases, not good. When someone creative comes
    along and goes against the grain of what kids consider music, they don’t know
    how to consume it; they’re befuddled. These beats are not supposed to stand
    out. That’s the problem with kids today; it’s all about the style not the
    substance. This young man is telling a story, and the beats compliment the
    words perfectly. I haven’t heard anything this brilliant in a long time, in all
    musical genres. But sadly to the young kids like the ones who participated in
    this discussion, this album will go right over their heads. They just don’t get
    it. To them, Gucci Mane is better, and that’s the sad reality we live in. Is
    album a classic? You’re damn right it is.

    • SoulIntent92

      I don’t get how an album can be considered a “classic” 3 days before it’s even released! Personally I would rate this album 5/5 but to say this album is a classic RIGHT NOW kind of takes away the meaning of the word…

    • JW

      Kids these days, their ears are programmed to simple
      songs with catchy hooks and dumbed down lyrics that are easy to sing along to
      and “trap beats” with only three chords, and are made on a computer
      in about 15 minutes. These kids hear real music like this, and it sounds weird
      to them, different, and in some cases, not good – TRUE STATEMENT.. BUT

      Again, EXPAND YOUR LISTENING. Plenty of music out there NOT using ‘trap’ type beats with thought provoking lyricism throughout. Skyzoo, Reks, Brother Ali, Torae, I could go on for awhile. But if we talking Mainstream level specifically, then yeah he up there. Classic though? Regardless that is a concept album and I appreciate that being an ol schooler… dosen’t mean you get automatic props based on that alone…. Section 80 was a better LP in my opinion. But to each his own, these are all opinions so if its a classic to you it is, if not its not. KDot getting paid either way so our opinions really don’t matter TOO much (although they do to a degree).


  • erge

    was dissapointed in the album. like the concept, he took it back to compton. but i feel alot of these songs are forgettable. i dont hear that kendrick lamar distinct sound in the style. lyrically its dope but style wise its whatever.

    • Reviews

      you are a faggot

  • This album is 9.5 at the very least. Its better then pretty much everything that has come out in the last 2 years. Better then J. Cole’s LP by far. ITS WHAT A ALBUM SHOULD SOUND LIKE!!!!! I could go on forever.

    • Hol_Up

      Better than J Cole’s LP?
      *Listens to MAAD CITY

  • Ive had it for a week its FIRE

  • SGP

    Overly Dedicated part 2. shits fire.

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  • GucciWho?

    Coulda left drake off

  • Eli Pinilla

    Yall sound like some elitest hiphop fans and shit…yall bashin nggz whos opinoin diffrent than yall. I love k dot, but some of yall goin stupid hard and prolly wont contribute when it drops

  • Guest

    I’m a K.Dot fan, & i can say i was kind of disappointed buy this album, especially coming of section 80 ,which I thought was a legitimate classic. the concept & lyrics were great but a lot of the beats he chose were so average ex.backseat freestyle,bitch don’t kill my vibe & swimming pools. & that song “Real” is terrible, not saying the album was horrible, just not up to my expectations for an MC this good

    • Eli Pinilla

      Your a fag bro. You must be a gucci fan. Your favorite rapper must be silk the shocker. You dont know shit about hip hop… fag!!!! (Sarcasm, thats judt how these dudes is acting on here cuz your opinion differ from theirs)

      • Nemesis_Enforcer

        But I thought he just said the same thing you did but with a little more detail. You both said Section 80 was better. He just commented on the beats. People usually expect the next album to be better then the last.

      • Eli Pinilla

        i was b’in sarcastic…. if u read some of these other comments, they make it seem like u dnt know shit about hip hop or like your a oj the juice man fan if u dont think this album is a classic. its sarcasm thoouhg, i agree with what he said

      • Nemesis_Enforcer

        LOL. true…

  • Nemesis_Enforcer

    Section 80? CLASSIC! How does this compare for those who have heard both?

    • Eli Pinilla

      Honestly, imo…od and section 80> gkmc… not cuz it is bad album, far from, just compared to his past works, its the least great out the three…. still great though, and worth the purchase.

      • Nemesis_Enforcer

        That’s what I’ve heard. I wanted to know if people here were going to be honest lol.

  • Ell Van Gogh

    9.5/10 to me… Drake fûcked it up… Shoulda had Schoolboy or Soul-o on tha Poetic Justice track instead… or maybe even Kurupt or sumtin

    • sualel

      i agree

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  • Welp…here it comes….so called fans eating their babies, cannibalizing the artists they so feverishly supported. I think that even if God made an album people would say it was a disappointment these days. Adversely, rap fans these days are harder to impress than God himself.

    • Hol_Up

      No album is perfect though, and all ratings are subjective. Let the guy write his review, It shouldn’t MAKE you see the album like they do, but they provide some insight to it that you may have never thought about.

      • Michael Dobbs

        That’s not true because illmatic was a perfect album. Anyone who doesn’t think so shouldn’t be entitled to an opinion.

      • Hol_Up

        How can you have an opinion of something if you can’t say what you like and don’t like?

  • Jones

    The album was good Id give it an 8. I wouldn’t say its a classic. Honestly I liked both SchoolBoy Q’s and Absoul’ss albums a lot more. Great stories here and a lot of purpose but the production failed what could have been a classic.

  • Zach

    Because k dot is the best in the game right now, i was expecting a little more. Its funny. Im disappointed by this album, like it was a let down. but it is the best rap album in the past 5 years. thats how much potential this guy has. 9/10. Best album since illmatic or college dropout

  • disqus_zHzVqy1Lmx

    easily a 9/10. anything less than that is disrespectful. Author, when is the last time hip hop has seen an album like this?

  • PhilW

    I have listened to this about three times….everytime it got better. I dont see how people thought Section 80 was better than this…I dont even think it was close. Best Album of the year…by far in my opinion..I wasnt even feeling Kendrick music that much until this…..damn good first effort

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  • JW

    Mainstream ‘classic’ yes, Mainstream ‘Album Of The Year’ possibly, overall hip-hop album of the year NOT EVEN CLOSE. It’s good but c’mon now, EXPAND your listening if this is ‘album of the year’ material to you. Again good LP (Money Trees is that jawn), but by far from the best. Plenty of music out there folks, get to DIGGIN!

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