One of the biggest struggles for Hip Hop in 2012 was to push forward from the Clams Casino, trap trends of the previous year. Instead we had a recurrence where a majority of the music felt recycled and tired. Blockbuster albums like Cruel Summer and Self Made Vol 2 failed to live up to promise, no new breakthrough groups took over, a list of albums were pushed forward to next year and in general a lot of music started to follow the same trends of drugged out trap , drenched in high fashion, poppin’ molly, flexing rap. It could be said that Hip Hop was well, quite boring. The genre was in desperate need of a record that would release us from this brain numbing state. That record was good kid, m.A.A.d city (GKMC). Even if The Chronic, The Black Album, 36 Chambers, Illmatic, Graduation or any other classic came out in the same year, GKMC still would have shone as one of the greatest albums. It isn’t just the importance of the role that the record will prove to play in Hip Hop, it’s the autobiographical vigour and narrative flare that makes this album truly stunning.
"good kid, m.A.A.d city a short film by Kendrick Lamar," is how he puts it. GKMC a trip back into Compton following him through the trials and tribulations of young man growing up in a city which destroys many. In the opening track "Sherane a.k.a Master Splinter’s Daughter" we are greeted by the murmurs of a family gathering which is very much the centre of this story. Kendrick is tested by the devils of the city. As we have seen in many a teen romance, boy and girl meet and fall hopelessly in love. In the case of Kendrick and the lifestyle he is caught up in, this isn't an option. In the track "The Art of Peer Pressure" he and his friends prowl the city in his mothers SUV. Then he writes another track into the script "Money Trees" which gets you right back on his side. "In the streets with a heater under my dungarees, dreams of me getting shaded under a money tree." Kendrick is at a crossroad in his life where to the live the life he dreams of he has to deduce into a life he doesn't want to lead.
His skill of rap is second-to-none and his prowess as a story teller is even more extraordinary. In only its first week GKMC sold over 240,000 units and as of December 13 has been certified Gold. These figures are a testament to Kendrick’s ability to bring such a personal, off the beaten track story and sound to the masses.
When we reach the end of Kendrick's tale and have witnessed a childhood that shapes the man we see today, you come to the realisation that Kendrick Lamar has undeniably made it. He has already begun to give back to the community that raised him by simply telling his story. And what is most charming is that he always knew this, as proven in the final track "Compton." During this victory lap Kendrick is joined by Dr. Dre a man who is part of the landscape that he grew up in. It wasn’t crucial at this point as 25 year old Kendrick Lamar had already made a Compton upbringing explicitly clear in a record that is heavy with storytelling and built less on the grandiose flossing that weighs the game down and hints at a craftsmanship that could go about salvaging it.
Words: Jacob Roy