I Can't Call It: Good Kid, M.A.A.D City - Kendrick Lamar

Posted On Monday, January 28, 2013

There comes a time in life when you just don’t get “it” anymore. And “it” is whatever is the newest craze that’s going around. For example, I just don’t get how dudes (whether you’re 12 to 38 years old) can walk around in tight jeans AND have them hanging off their ass. I just don’t get it. And I always thought that as long as I kept my ears to the street or as long as I continued to mentor teens throughout the hoods of SE Washington DC that I’d still “be down” or be looked at by the kids as being the “cool” old head. And for the most part, that’s how they look at me. But more and more I’ve come to realize that I’m the “cool” old head not because I wear tight jeans (cause I don’t) or not because I pull up in the hood blasting 2 Chains (cause I don’t) but because I relate to where they come from and I share my past to help guide their future. Because if it came down to me trying to keep up with the newest trends, in their eyes, I’d never be cool. And I’m not cool for the simple fact that I’m 38 years old. No 38 year old is looked at as “cool” in the eyes of a 16 year old unless you’re just letting them do whatever they wanna do. But I think Bun B said it best when he said “hip hop is a young man’s game.” And I’m obviously not a young man anymore. So I’ve come to grips with not being “cool” cause I don’t know the newest slang or because I’ve got the new Galaxy 18 cell phone (like Big said, “they ain’t made them yet”) but when it comes to hip hop, I would still like to think that I’m still “cool” because I at least know the difference between dope hip hop and wack hip hop…or at least I thought I did.

Enter Kendrick Lamar. Dr. Dre’s newest co sign, the savior of West Coast hip hop and EVERY single person's favorite MC. The only problem is...I don't get the hype around dude...at all. I think dude is a good MC but "good" MC's don't get co signed from Dre.  Let’s not forget that Dre co-signed Ice Cube, D.O.C., Snoop, Eminem, Game. Ya'll remember that right? And 4 names outta those 5 are 4 of the biggest artist that not only the West Coast has seen but the entire hip hop culture has seen. And I'm sorry but Kendrick Lamar doesn't belong on that list. Money may belong on "a list" but again, it ain't THAT one. I've heard the mixtapes, I've heard the songs and again, it's not that think dude is wack but this is the dude ya'll are anointing as the West Coast savior?!?!?! Word?!?!? In fact the only time I've thoroughly enjoyed Kendrick Lamar is on Game's "The City." But with every hip hop website, blog and message board not to mention cats that I run with telling me dude is the truth, I wanted to give my ears one last shot to try to grasp what everyone else seems to be hearing, but that I obviously keep missing.

“Good Kid…” sets off with “Sherane” where Kendrick explains how he’s trying to hit this chick off that he met at a house party as soon as this episode of Martin that he’s watching goes off, “the summer had passed and now I’m liking her, conversation we having probably enticing her/who can imagine maybe my actions I end up wifing her/love or lust regardless we’ll f-ck, it’s just the trife in us.” “B-tch Don’t Kill My Vibe” has a REAL heavy “Oukast/Andre 3000” vibe going on and I’m surprised that I actually mess with The Hit Boy (can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of dude…I’m probably in the .1% of the population that doesn’t like “N-ggaz In Paris”) produced “Backseat Freestyle” where Kendrick lets loose. “The Art of Peer Pressure” explains all of the hoopla that Kendrick doesn’t get into, until he’s with the homies, “Money Trees” featuring Jay Rock is solid (anybody care to tell me what “ya bish” means?) while “Poetic Justice” featuring Drake freaks Janet’s “Anytime, Anyplace” and is a certified banger. The Pharrell produced “Good Kid” is on point and “Bad City” featuring one of Compton’s original OG’s M.C. Eiht and the feel of the track will instantly take you back to the first time you heard of the city of Compton.

The album’s 1st single “Swimming Pools” is Kendrick’s tales about alcohol and even though the Just Blaze produced “Compton” featuring Dr. Dre sounds like a beat that Jay Z turned down 10 years ago it still ends the album on a high note but leaves me wanting to hear more of Kendrick over these style of beats where he just spits. No sound effects on his voice, no spaced out choruses, just spitting. But my favorite track on the album is “Sing About Me…I’m Dying of Thirst” where Kendrick sets it off with “I woke up this morning and figured I would call you, in case I’m not here tomorrow, I’m hoping that I can borrow, a piece of mind, I’m behind on what’s really important, my mind is really distorted, I find nothing but trouble in my life” and then when he goes into “Dying of Thirst” it just gets that much better. “Tired of running, tired of hunting, my own kind, but retiring nothing, tires screeching, the driver is rubbing, hands on the wheel, who said we wasn’t, dying of thirst, dying of thirst, dying of thirst, dope on the corner, looking at the coroner, daughter is dead, mother is mourning her, strayed bullets, AK bullets, resuscitation was waiting patiently but they couldn’t, bring her back, who got the footage, channel 9, camera is looking, it’s hard to channel your energy when you know you’re crooked, banana clip, split his banana pudding, I’m like Tre, that’s Cuba Gooding.” And I thought Kendrick was just a good MC huh? At least I know how to admit when I'm wrong.

One of the things that I love the most about “Good Kid…” is that Kendrick literally takes you into his world of what it’s like growing up in Compton. When I was coming up I felt that the dope MC’s could visually take you to where they were from through their rhymes. So thanks to Common I had been to the South Side of Chicago, through N.W.A. I’d been to a million swap meets in Compton and through Outkast I had been to too many package stores in the S.W.A.T.S. to name. And I haven’t felt that feeling in a minute but thanks to Kendrick Lamar I get a first class ticket back to the streets of Compton. The other thing I love about the album is that most of the songs come in the form of suites so the 1st beat you hear won’t be the last. And it’s not you’re average beat change up like GangStarr’s “I’m The Man” or “Speak Your Clout” where the beat changes to match each MC because these beats change to fit the scenery of Kendrick’s story telling. Which helps you to see “Good Kid…” for what is truly is which is a film on wax versus your average hip hop album.

I can’t front, I was expecting “Good Kid…” to be a good album but to my surprise it’s actually a really, really dope album. And after chillin' with this it for a minute, Kendrick has gone from being just a "good" MC in my eyes to him being a "real dope" MC. I think I came to that conclusion because this album shows that dude is more then just a "boom bap" MC and I think that's what I was expecting from money when I first started hearing his name but Kendrick's skill are too dope to be kept in the "boom bap box." It’s like when Jay said “I’m more Frank Lucas then Ludacris”, well Kendrick is more 3000 then Nas and now that I understand that, I understand him a little better. So the question is, after listening to “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” do I think Kendrick is the savior of West Coast hip hop like everyone else thinks? Well, it’s gonna take more then one album for anybody to get that title from me but what I can tell you is that “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” mos def moves Kendrick’s name to the top of the list.

 4.5 outta 5

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