By Mackenzie Viera |Staff Writer|
Kendrick Lamar fans, the wait is finally over. The highly anticipated album good kid, m.A.A.d city has been released, establishing it as the highlight of hip-hop releases this year.
As a Los Angeles native, who has not only followed but has lived, experienced and grown up with the West Coast hip-hop scene, it’s been expected of the west side honcho to deliver his finest work.
good kid, m.A.A.d city invites listeners into a particular day living in Compton from Lamar’s point of view. The short story starts with a dark, chilling murmuring prayer followed by the synthesized bass evolving into a seventeen-year old Lamar elaborating on his lust for a girl named Sherane. As he arrives at Sherane’s house, he realizes he’s been set up and two men dressed in hoodies approach him.
There are several snippets featured on the album that serve as the glue in piecing the story line together. The situation that follows his arrival at Sherane’s house isn’t brought full circle until later on in the album.
“Poetic Justice,” the album’s most current single, continues his sexual thoughts concerning Sherane; the snippet afterwards reintroduces the two men in hoodies ordering Kendrick out of the van.”good kid” presents Kendrick’s explanation of the assault that follows and other violent occurrences he experienced while growing up in Compton.
Aside from his encounter with Sherane and the two men, the message behind The Art of Peer Pressure is exceptional. The song demonstrates how his actions are influenced by his “homies” which results in reckless behavior such as: breaking and entering, harassing pedestrians and experiencing marijuana for the first time. It isn’t until the snippet that follows this song and the track “m.A.A.d city,” that listeners are informed that the marijuana Kendrick smoked was laced with angel dust (which better explains his album title; m.A.A.d = my Angel’s on Angel dust/ my Angry Adolescents divided).
Two tracks in particular, “Backseat Freestyle” and “B**** Don’t Kill My Vibe,” create bittersweet feelings. Concerning the latter, after the beat drops, stacked vocals chant, “I am a sinner who’s probably going to sin again, lord forgive me…” Immediately, one is captivated until the lyrics turn into a repetitive rudimentary chorus.
“I think it was a masterpiece. Storytelling at its best, luring listeners into every dark alley, forcing them to witness the harsh reality,” said student Mike Sessions. “A man’s growth happened through twelve songs, inspiring others to look deep into their own development as human beings.”
A common characteristic found alluring throughout the album is the stacked vocals in the tracks. If you’re a hip-hop fanatic, you’d recognize the use of stacked vocals from legendary hip-hop duo Outkast’s 1998 album titled track, “Aquemini.” Lamar was able to pull this technique off with his playful West Side inspired vocals.
You know how the book is always better than the movie? Hip-Hop is quite similar. Usually up and coming rappers compose raw and unfiltered mixtapes, however once owned by a label, certain restrictions and expectations are put in place. In this case, it’s not entirely a bad thing. Although there’s a handful of great tracks on this album, considering Lamar’s previous mixtapes, this album left listeners wanting more.