Last night I had my faith restored in hip-hop, with Kendrick Lamar’s debut release Good Kid M.a.a.D. City. With hip-hops growing popularity and crossover into mainstream radio, Kendrick’s album revisits the past glory days of raw hip-hop. Now a days hip-hop seems to be compromising itself to get radio play in order to get popular appeal and acquire commercial backing. In other words make a song everybody can sing along with, get more money and more radio play. Now i used to be severely opposed to this genre of music and only listened to the rappers who i considered deeply lyrical. As i’ve grown, and more-so as i’ve been beaten over the head with this radio rap, i’ve learned to appreciate it for what its worth. I mean those radio songs are what get played in the club, and those songs are necessary to get hype and get to feeling yourself. No disrespect, but not too many people are going to get crunk in the club listening to Nas’s One Mic. So the club/radio songs serve their purpose.
But with Kendrick Lamar’s newest album, he makes no such compromise, straight lyrical-original content from beginning to end. One of my favorite aspects of this new album is the skits that lead from one song to next adding continuity to the album. The skits add to the story, and the whole album seems like a novel composed of musical songs. It makes sense that on the cover it says, “A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar.” Because thats what it is, a Compton native narrating his tales as a kid in a city full of hardships and danger, detailing his rise above the circumstances he faced. And it takes a trained ear to follow Kendrick through his lyrics, because he makes no effort to make it easy for the listener to follow him, in order words, theres no gimmick raps on this album.
Many have donned Kendrick as the artist that will put West Coast hip-hop back on the map, and he definitely has that west coast sound in his music. But i’d go further to say it’s possible Kendrick might possess the ability to put real lyricism back into hip-hop and make it popular. Listening to this album gave me a feeling i haven’t felt regarding hip-hop music in a while. It reminded me of when i first fell in love with hip-hop because of the tales that were told through lyrics. Riding around listening to this album gave the sense of knowing what would it would be like to be that kid in Compton facing the dangers of gang-related activities. Shout out to Kendrick for allowing me to experience that without the turmoils of actually having to live that life. Much appreciation for giving me that feeling of escaping into a different world through music.
To all the true hip-hop heads, Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.a.a.D. City is a must buy. Fall in love with the long forgotten art of storytelling that hip-hop provides.