My friend caused a stir on Facebook when he proclaimed that Kendrick Lamar was the best rapper out now period.
Yes Compton born Kendrick Lamar. Not Jay-Z. Not Kanye. Not Nas. But Kendrick Lamar. I know what you’re thinking: how could a rapper that just released his debut album be considered the best rapper out? I mean his album hasn’t even went platinum yet.
But it’s bigger than that. Despite what most think, Kendrick has been on his grind for a long time now. Before there was “Swimming Pools” there was Section .80, the critically acclaimed independent album that dropped last July. And before that there was O(verly) D(edicated), the mixtape that first introduced me to Kendrick Lamar. And let’s not forget the countless guest appearances that featured the Dr. Dre protege.
Let that sink in: a protege of Dr. Dre.
Being a Dr. Dre protege and getting the co-sign from the legend himself has to mean that Kendrick is doing something right because when Dr. Dre cosigns somebody that means they’re doing something right. (Hello Eminem). And if that wasn’t enough, he’s received praises from The Game, Snoop Dogg, & Lupe Fiasco (just to name a few).
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Kendrick Lamar. This is coming from somebody that drove to Tinley Park, Illinois to see him open for Mac Miller & Wiz Khalifa and somebody that dealt with the horrible sound system at Congress Theater to see him in concert for a second time in less than 2 months.
But just because I’m a fan doesn’t mean that I’m going to accept anything that Kendrick releases & anoint it as being a classic. If you read my Section .80 review you’ll see that it was only one of two albums that I gave an A rating too. That’s how much I loved it & I still play it til this very day. So with that being said, I hold this man up on a higher pedestal than I do most. Maybe that’s unfair to him but that’s just how it is.
Before the official release of the album, of course the album leaked. And it was instantly crowned as a classic album. A debut album crowned as a classic right out the gate without an amount of time passing by before it was considered a classic. So I guess according to those listeners, my friend was right: Kendrick is the best rapper out right now.
But would the TDE representer be able to live up to everybody’s proclamations/expectations, especially my own?
On good kid, m.A.A.d city Kendrick continues his strong play of being a great story teller of our generation. The entire album reminds me of 90s movie set on the west coast with the different interludes connecting the songs. The imagery makes it easy for the listener to picture everything that’s happening as if they’re experiencing it first hand themselves. In addition to the imagery displayed in his rhymes, the rapper shows off his superior lyricism with his use of metaphors as seen in the line, “How can I paint this picture when the color blind is hanging with ya”. But he’s able to be lyrical without completely going over the listener’s head.
One thing that I liked about this album was the fact that there wasn’t a song that sounded like another song. There were tracks that had dark and sinister beats, slow cuts that are bound to be big radio hits because the ladies will love them, and beats that remind me of early 90s west coast rap. Kendrick switches everything up on the album beat wise which doesn’t leave the listener bored or feeling like they already heard the song earlier. Another thing that Kendrick does to break up the monotony is experiment with different vocal inflections as seen in the last verse of “Backseat Freestyle”.
For a debut album, Kendrick had the right amount of guest features. Although I was shocked that ScHoolboy Q wasn’t featured on the regular album (not counting the deluxe edition) Jay Rock didn’t disappoint on “Money Trees”. Drake’s appearance on “Poetic Justice” might piss off some hip hop listeners (ok probably most) but it does guarantee that the track will be a big single for Kendrick. I was happy that none of the guest features overshadowed Kendrick on his album and that he didn’t rely on the guest features to help the album succeed by having one on every song.
There are a few songs that I’ve could’ve done without on the album specifically “Now or Never” & “Compton”. I also longed for the first beat in the track “m.A.A.d City” to be a full song on its own instead of being attached to a different song. (Why do artists have to tease me like that?)
I’ll have to say that this is the best rap/hip hop album that I’ve heard this year so far. Even with the negatives, good kid, m.A.A.d city offers something for every listener from great beats, supreme lyricism, and great story telling. I don’t know if I could go as far to say if this album is a classic because to me I have to let some time pass by to see if I will still love the album in a few years. But I will say that this is one of the best debut albums that I’ve heard in the past few years. Now I’m anxious to see how he’ll top this with his future albums.