Look inside my soul and you can find gold and maybe get rich. Look inside of your soul and you can find doubt, it never exists.
Sounds like words from a poetry slam right? Well it’s not. These words were spoken by a young man who grew up in Compton. Kendrick Lamar has brought that creativity back to rap that has been missing for so long.
The west coast hasn’t made this big of an impact in the rap game since Dr. Dre’s “2001.” Lamar’s major-label debut album, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” has brought the west coast back. It is more of a short novel than an album, which makes it so great.
Lamar keeps it real. He is a west coast rapper, but his style is not just confined to the west side. This is something that all hip-hop heads will love. His style is a refreshing change from listening to 2 Chainz rap about making it rain in a strip club or Drake’s narcissism.
These days, most rappers only worry about having three or four top 40 hits on an otherwise lackluster album. Lamar is more focused on telling a story, and his ability to do this would make even the greatest storytellers like Nas and Ice Cube proud. Throughout the album there are skits depicting struggles that Kendrick was faced with growing up in Compton.
Lamar plays K Dot, a teenager who borrows his mother’s mini van to ride around with his friends. They soon encounter the good and evil that “The Hub City” has to offer.
The Compton rapper is not alone in this 15 track journey. Dr. Dre, who has been criticized for getting a little soft with recent pop-like songs such as “I Need a Doctor,” goes back to his Death Row Records roots in “Compton” and “The Recipe”.
Legendary rapper MC Eiht brings his usual gangsta-rap flow to “m.A.A.d city.” The beat will have you head bopping as you hear Lamar and MC Eiht rap about the killings going on left and right in the mad city of Compton.
Top Dawg, Interscope and Aftermath Records labelmate Jay Rock is featured on my favorite track, “Money Trees.” This track is a throwback to the era of west coast dominance in the rap game back in the 1990s with many catchy lines that will stay in your head for days.
Even the aforementioned Drake gets in on Kendrick’s love story about his girl Sherane in “Poetic Justice.” This sample of Janet Jackson’s “Anytime Anyplace” will be very popular in bedrooms all over the country.
The final track features Mary J. Blige in “Now or Never.” The upbeat flow in this feel-good track serves as a perfect ending to show that the “good kid” Kendrick Lamar was able to survive the “m.A.A.d city” and his hard work is finally paying off.
There will never be another Tupac or Notorious B.I.G. Jay-Z and Nas are all-time greats at the end of their careers. We are witnessing the beginning of another rap legend with Kendrick Lamar.
He is a throwback to what made rap so special back in the day. His diverse flow is rarely seen in the new era of MC’s.
With greatness comes higher expectations. This is the album of the year so far and certainly has me expecting nothing but greatness from Kendrick Lamar from here on out. However, as Kanye West showed us after his 2004 album “College Dropout,” some rappers tend to get complacent after they’ve made it.
Let’s hope Kendrick Lamar is better than that.