“Sacred albums”: 10 years of good kid, mAd city by Kendrick Lamar | urban bible

Photo credit : Aftermath / Interscope

Peu artists can boast of having created a work that is part of a university course. This is the case of Kendrick Lamar with “good kid, mAd city”. Is it really a surprise for an artist who, two albums later, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music, a prize he is the only one to have won to date in his musical genre? Kendrick Lamar Duckworth is a special artist who changed the musical landscape as soon as he landed with his second opus.

Not doing anything like the others, Lamar chooses to present a concept album: good kid, mAd city.

The cover indicates the mention “A short film by Kendrick Lamar”. It is a judicious subtitle, since the work can be listened to like a film.

It follows the tribulations of the protagonist, K-Dot, as he transitions into adulthood. He meets girls chill with his friends, robs a house and wonders about his future in a place like Compton, where gangs rule and his innocence crumbles.

“Everybody sit yo’ bitch-ass down and listen to this true motherfuckin’ story told by Kendrick Lamar on Rosecrans, ya bitch”

The opus opens with “Sherane aka Master Splinter’s Daughter”, which rather serves as an introduction to the story that Kendrick Lamar is about to tell us. It reminds me of the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs, when the thieves discuss tipping and Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”, or even that of the marriage of the godfather’s daughter in The Godfather. In truth, itThese are not moments that move the story forward, but they are very important for the listener (or the spectator) to grasp the universe in which he is about to enter.

“Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” is more a statement on the state of hip-hop music at the moment than part of the narrative, but it remains important in establishing the state of mind from K-Dot, and also from Lamar. He criticizes the superficiality of people in the music industry and explains how he wants to rise higher with his art.

With “Backseat Freestyle”, one of the best tracks on the album, it is at this precise moment that the story really takes off. Our protagonist has fun with his friends in his car until everything degenerates during a burglary, in “The Art of Peer Pressure”, from which he will narrowly escape the police.

“Brace yourself, I’ll take you on a trip down memory lane, This is not a rap on how I’m slingin crack or move cocaine”

At this precise point on the record, Lamar’s artistic choice distances him even further from the rest of the hip-hop contingent. In the songs that follow, we feel the rapper troubled by what is happening around him. And even more, we do not hear, through his texts, the bravado of other rappers. In fact, it glorifies neither sex, nor drugs, nor misogyny, nor lifestyle. gangsta.

Above all, he devotes himself to a serious reflection on this lifestyle and on his own place in this universe which surrounds him.

“Good Kid” and “MAAD City”, in particular, report on this inner fight which eats away at him and which could lead him to death: if he does not join a gang, he will then find himself without protection, and if he does, he will become a man marked by the opposing gangs…

What are the possible outcomes for young K-Dot?

“Now everybody serenade the new faith of Kendrick Lamar, This is King Kendrick Lamar”

the single ‘Swimming Pool (Drank)’ may seem like just a party song, but it’s essential to the record’s narrative as K-Dot’s friends seek revenge after he’s beaten up.

And the events that follow lead to the death of one of his relatives…

“Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” and “Real” serve as a conclusion to his reflection on his environment and the choices that his protagonist must make, in particular to change his vision of life.

He then becomes Kendrick Lamar and no longer the young K-Dot who was looking for himself in a world that was not made for him.

It’s not for nothing that Rolling Stone magazine recently named good kid, mAd city as being the best concept album of all time and that the latter is now taught on school benches.

It’s a real tour de force, both musically speaking and in terms of writing.

The best concept albums are often those whose songs are successful without needing to be listened to with the rest of the opus. We can think of “Ziggy Stardust” from david bowie or “Money” by Pink Floyd, for example.

This is the case here with the singles ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’ and ‘Swimming Pool (Drank)’, which achieved smash hits.

It’s really a flawless run for the young rapper.

And it’s not his last.

Keep an eye out for the next “Sacred Albums” column in November 2022. Consult all our previous columns at labibleurbaine.com/Les+albums+sacred.

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“Sacred albums”: 10 years of good kid, mAd city by Kendrick Lamar | urban bible