The album tells the story of Kendrick Lamar. We go through his life and how he has ended up how he is today through the experiences of his youth and the environment in which he has grown up in. Each song in the album is linked through numerous skits, something which is extremely effective as it gives the listener a deeper vision and meaning to each song, whilst allowing us to follow the story.
‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’ talks about Kendrick growing up in a rough and poor area of Compton in the USA. He raps about how he was influenced by this environment and his friends to commit crime, take drugs and drink excessive amounts of alcohol. The song ‘The Art Of Peer Pressure’ talks directly about these problems and how he would be pressured into doing things. A quote from the song ‘usually I’m drug-free, but shit I’m with the homies’ summing this up.
The album takes a turn however when Kendrick’s brother is shot dead after a gun fight with a rival gang. This is a somewhat revelation for Kendrick, that he needs to get out of the life that he is living or he will soon be joining his brother. The skit that follows the song ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst’ talks about his friends seeking revenge but Kendrick doesn’t want that, he is ‘tired of running’ and tired of hurting his own people and wants out. This is where he turns to religion to repent his sins that he has committed, the skit is very much like the one at the beginning taking the form of a prayer asking for forgiveness. After this skit the mood of the album changes in the song ‘Real’ the vibe is much more light and happy as if he has finally freed himself of all the guilt and regret that had been building up inside of him. The final song of the album ‘Compton’ is almost like a celebration song, the fact that he made it out of the hood and bettered himself. The song also reflects on his past and how now he can be a role model to people like him growing up in these environments. Dr Dre, a hugely successful rapper out of Compton, features on the song.
The album is a modern-day masterpiece and one of the best put together albums of this century. The way the album flows from one song to another telling an intimate and emotional story is extremely effective. The album really feels like you’re on a journey with Kendrick Lamar through his life, and as a listener you can really connect with the story that he is conveying. The skits work extremely well in linking the songs together and feeling like we’re part of this story, listening in on personal messages and conversations. Musically, the album has a soulful and jazz type of feel to it, but it is his ability to vary the tone of the beats and emotion of his voice to the section of the story that is being told, which make the album very, very special.
First published: November 29, 2012