Throwback Review: “good kid, m.A.A.D. city” by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 album “good kid, m.A.A.D. city” is a unique and creative album that helped skyrocket the artist to fame


Kendrick’s Lamar’s second studio album “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” was released on Oct. 22, 2012 by Top Dawg Entertainment.

Kendrick Lamar has long been considered one of, if not the best rappers and poets of this generation, especially after projects like “To Pimp A Butterfly” and “Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers.” However, in October of 2012, Kendrick Lamar was nothing more than an upcoming rapper, but he would release an album that would make him a household name. “good kid, m.A.A.D city” was Kendrick Lamar’s second studio album, and despite being a concept album (an album centered around telling a story) it is packed with early 2010’s hits and broke Kendrick into the game as a powerhouse, in the minds of both hardcore rap fans and the casual listener. 

Vocally speaking, Lamar has a unique way of rapping and singing. His inflections tend to dance along a thin line between high pitched, monotone, and passionate yelling, and it truly fleshes out the emotions being felt in this album. On “Backseat Freestyle” Kendrick has a raspy, laughter inflicted voice that reflects the “freestyling with your friends” atmosphere. Although he would venture more into an eccentric vocal style with later albums, here there are glimpses into it that are hard to ignore. 

With production done by hiphop legends Dr. Dre, Pharell Williams, Hit-Boy, and many others, the album was bound to be gorgeous on the instrumental side. Single “Swimming Pools” manages to connect party production and a deep, watery, and echoey production style to form an atmosphere that perfectly integrates itself into the listeners mind. Additionally, production stands out on “m.a.a.d city” and “B****, Don’t Kill My Vibe” that ranges from loud, abrasive, and angry to introspective, calm, and airy. Drawing inspiration from Outkast’s “Aquemini” the light piano, background vocals, and dark and surrounding bass forms a circle around the listener that submerges them in the environment that Kendrick puts them in. 

Lyrically, Kendrick has always been a shining star. With this album he seeks to tell the story of his youth in Compton, California. He raps about his experience with gang culture, death, people he has lost, drugs — all heavy topics — and he does so with a poetic expertise that could have only been expressed by a prodigy. His writing is introspective and philosophical while also being catchy and memorable, and that makes his lyrics a real standout on this project. Particularly this stands out on the masterpiece that is “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst.” which is a 12 minute odyssey into Lamar’s mind and sometimes heartbreaking or tragic defining stories of his adolescence. Undoubtedly, this song is a masterclass in storytelling. 

Debuting at number two on the Billboard Top 200 and selling 242,000 copies in the first week, it was also named the “Best Album Of 2012” by BBC, Complex, Fact, New York, and Pitchfork respectively. It earned the best album of the year award at the BET Hip Hop Awards and was nominated for 5 grammys. Being filled from cover to cover with iconic rap songs of the 2010’s and also managing to tell an incredible story, Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.D. city” was a career defining triumph, and was only the beginning of his amazing time in the spotlight. 100% an absolute must listen.