Mackenzie Cummings-Grady Journal Staff
When Kendrick Lamar released his first album Section.80 back in 2011, the album was a concept piece, exploring societal ills through the point of view of two fictional characters. The hype around the Compton-based rapper began to escalate, not because of how popular Section.80 was, but because of Lamar’s potential as a rapper. Taken under the guidance of the infamous Andre Romelle Young, better known as “Dr. Dre,” Kendrick Lamar released his major label debut album Good kid, m.A.A.d city last week to a slew of positive reviews. While concept albums usually aren’t my favorite pieces of art, Lamar’s dense storytelling and emotional prowess provide music that will send shivers down your spine and tears down your cheeks.
Kendrick’s story begins with the introductory piece “Sherane a.k.a Master Splinter’s Daughter,” in which Lamar describes how he essentially ran away from home for a life with a mysterious woman and a copious of drugs. The haunting beat molds greatly with Lamar’s voice, providing an unsettling feeling, similar to taking a test in which you studied the wrong material. The knots in your stomach unfold soon after with the relaxing “Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Money Trees,” in which Kendrick’s drug filled Cali adventure begins to take a dark turn.
The obvious favorite track of the album would have to be “Poetic Justice” with Drake. While Drake’s verse is one of the best I’ve heard from him since his sophomore release, Kendrick’s rhymes are so crisp that Mr. October doesn’t overshadow him, “Every time I write these words they become a taboo, making sure my punctuation curve every letter is true, living my life in the margin and that metaphor was proof.” For me, this track solidified the genius of “good kid,” and makes me pray that a collaboration album with J. Cole and Drake is around the corner.
Overall, this album is a treasure. The 12-minute song “Sing About Me/Dying of Thirst” gets the listener so involved it feels like a two minute piece, The title track shows some of Lamar’s best rhymes, the first single “Swimming Pools” gives a dark, club-like atmosphere that the radio could easily craft, and the Dre assisted closer(s) “Compton” & “The Recipe” give the duets of “Watch The Throne” a run for thier money. This album will put Kendrick on the charts and Cali back on the map as the birthplace of some of the greatest rappers alive, and I can only pray that the next chapter in Kendrick Lamar’s story will be twice as intricate, twice as dense, and with J. Cole and The Weeknd helping him along the way.