My first introduction to Kendrick Lamar came this summer when my friend showed me his “summer jam,” a song called “Swimming Pools,” while driving through Cape Cod. Needless to say, I was instantly hooked and a summer of inserting “drank” behind every possible action began.
The release of his premier album good kid, m.A.A.d city is refreshing in the context of some rather dumbed-down hip-hop. I mean, we are living in a time when “Dance” by Big Sean became popular.
Josh Forte, A&S ’14, noted, “What sets Kendrick Lamar apart is his artistry and his lyricism. He doesn't just rap about money, girls, etc. like a lot of rappers.”
Kendrick Lamar certainly has a lot to offer to the current hip-hop scene. He and Dr. Dre put together an entire album that told a story, reflected in the subtitle “A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar.”
The entire concept of the album is centered around his growing up in Compton, and how he tried to remain a “good kid” in this “m.A.A.d city” by focusing on his music. He notes in “B****, Don’t Kill My Vibe” that his “New Year’s resolution is to stop all the pollution,” to finally escape from the negative influences in Compton and become a great artist.
Connor Homan, a junior in CSOM who interned with Columbia Records in A&R, said, “Kendrick…uses his vocabulary and intelligence to rap about deeper, more complex ideas.”
This album marked the end of Kendrick as an independent artist and was released as a joint venture deal between Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath, and Interscope Records. The production end of the album is definitely “on point” as Forte noted, and it is evident through many of the album’s great beats.
Homan also said that “Kendrick and Dr. Dre did a great job of making the album flow together.”
Some of the best songs on the album are “Swimming Pools,” “B****, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” and “Compton.”
“B****, Don’t Kill my Vibe” has an awesome beat, and Forte gives “props to the producer, Sound Wave.”
I was also impressed that he was able to collaborate with such prominent artists as Dr.Dre, Mary J. Blige, and Drake.
“Compton” features Dr. Dre, and Homan describes this song as the “beginning of the album's climax, as the sound climbs to a peak out of a slow, sad sequence of songs.”
Kendrick Lamar’s talent is not going unnoticed. Twitter has been blowing up over the release of good kid, m.A.A.d city. USA TODAY noted that he was on stage at a 2011 Los Angeles concert with Dre, Snoop and The Game when they crowned him the new "King of the West Coast."
The artist’s West Coast influence is clear throughout good kid, m.A.A.d city, and you can hear his inspiration drawn from famous West-Coasters such as Snoop Dogg and 2pac. I also think he brought back some of the past skill seen in hip-hop from artists like Eminem, Jay-Z and Dr. Dre.
In the words of Forte, “He can spit with the best of them.”