Kendrick Lamar’s full-length debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, is a rare accomplishment. It lives up to massive hype without confining itself to one type of fan. It’s a hip-hop album that appeals to casual fans of the genre, as well as longtime hip-hop connoisseurs familiar with every production credit. Stunning beats deliver over Kendrick’s intoxicating flow and gripping narratives, supplementing commentary on the familial effect of greed, crime, and other vices rampant throughout crime-ridden places like Compton. good kid, m.A.A.d city is an album that shows its protagonist growing up as the album progresses, his environment affecting his perception one song at a time. The second track, “Backseat Freestyle“, presents the delusional teenager with ambitions of wealth, fame, and general invincibility: “All my life I want money and power, respect my mind or die from a lead shower / I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower, so I can fuck the world for 72 hours.” By the album’s end, the melancholic late-night feel of “Real” presents a realization of a superficial past: “You love your hood, might even love it to death / But what love got to do with it when you don’t love yourself?”
I could go on forever about the album, but I’ll wait until the year-end list to expand. For now, I wanted to make sure that listeners were aware of two non-album tracks, as good as anything on good kid, m.A.A.d city. The first, “The Heart Pt. 3 (Will You Let It Die?)” was released a few weeks back, and touches on the pressures of “Tupac reincarnated” comparisons for Kendrick. “‘Cause when the whole world see you as Pac reincarnated / Enough pressure to make you just open the Book of David / And pray to God that you make it or live your life in the matrix / ‘Cause falling off is a sickness, I heard that it’s quite contagious.” It sounds properly grandiose when his voice cracks during that line, with the swelling orchestral beat pulsating in the background. The second effort, “The Jig Is Up (Dump’n)”, was just released yesterday. The choir/organ beat seems apt for Halloween, or any Gothic cathedral setting. “Real people want real music, the jig is up,” he says before the organs resume. It seemed imminent he would respond to Shyne eventually, who grabbed some headlines by trying to kill Kendrick’s pleasant post-release buzz by criticizing the album. Bitch won’t kill his vibe.