This past week rapper Kendrick Lamar released his album "Good Kid, M.A.A.D City." His album discusses difficult topics like racial profiling and gang affiliation. It's sure to be a solid hit for fans of rap and the album certainly rings true to the original intent of rap music.
The first single, "Sherane a.k.a Master Splinter's Daughter," describes Lamar's young appetite for sex, which takes away any logical reasoning in this incident. He thinks of nothing but getting to Sherane in an intimate way. However, by the end of the song Lamar drives up to see two individuals in black hoodies, possibly gang members or relatives of Sherane. Undoubtedly, his lack of reasoning led him into trouble. Hard issues like this are the untiring theme of the entire album, accompanied by hard beats and personal stories.
Lamar does not give in to the mainstream style of rap/pop beats and lyrics. "Good Kid" and "M.A.A.D City" are separate songs detailing crime in different aspects. "Good Kid" focuses on gang violence and drugs, as evident in lyrics such as "And you ask, 'lift up your shirt'/Cause you wonder if a tattoo/of affiliation can make it a pleasure to put me through/Gang files, but that don't matter because the matter is racial profile." Lamar highlights the heartless actions of both gangster and Compton police officers. In "M.A.A.D City," Lamar spills the details of his childhood neighborhood, describing gun war in comparison to Pakistan, and the constant animosity that the area created. "M.A.A.D" has two meanings: first, it stands for "my angry adolescents divided," and second "my angel on angel dust." Those different meanings provide significant relevance when used in context.
There is no ambiguity about what Lamar is detailing in "The Art of Peer Pressure." Lamar was not one to do drugs, but he describes smoking a "blunt" that was laced with angel dust in his song. It's pretty self-explanatory and is very personal, not unlike the entire album. Stylistically, Lamar infiltrates a jazzy sound in the beginning that portrays an easy-going feel, but he suddenly speeds the beat up and turns to a more serious note.
The last track on the album, appropriately titled "Compton," features Dr. Dre. The song is catchy and is a "come see if you can make it on my side of town" type of vibe. Once again Lamar is speaking about the intense atmosphere of Compton (for those who are unaware, Compton is an area in Los Angeles). Dr. Dre throws in his two cents saying he will stand by his city until he dies and upgrades to heaven.
Personally, I wouldn't have picked up this album off the shelf, but it really captured my interest once I figured out that each song was a chapter in the life of the artist himself. Also, the beat sucked me in after a few songs. I got the feeling he was laying everything out on the table for his fans, while bringing to light the injustices that occur. Honestly, you will either love it or hate it; there's no in-between.