Most Overrated Album of 2012: Kendrick Lamar “good kid, M.A.A.D. city”

Kendrick Lamar

good kid, M.A.A.D. city

[Aftermath; 2012]

Rating: 5.3

Hype is an important factor for any musician’s start in the business, but out of all the genres, it is most important in the world of hip-hop. Hype made artists like 50 Cent, Drake, and Nicki Minaj household names before they’d even released their first record.  In the world of rap music, hype is king, whether it be legendary hype-men like Flavor Flav and P Diddy, or the multitude of hip-hop outlets that rely heavily on the idea of “hype” (Hoodhype.com, H.Y.P.E. Magazine, Hypemixtapes.com).  In recent years, a major factor in the growth of an artists hype results from the online, mix tape movement, an avenue for budding artists to get their sound out there.

One of the artists to get his start through the mix tape avenue is Kendrick Lamar and his Black Hippy crew. After several mix tapes, he released “Section.80,” a promising album for a young rapper. From there, the hype began to grow (out of proportion). After doing a concert with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and The Game, the trio called him “The King of the New West Coast.” Dre took it a step further, signing Lamar to his Aftermath label. Before his first release on the label even came out, Dre and him could be found mean-mugging on the cover of XXL Magazine, and inside, the XXL touted his latest album as “the biggest debut since Illmatic.” Even Nas himself said that Lamar was the future of hip-hop. Before anyone had even heard the album, Vibe Magazine ran a story on why his new album would change California rap forever.  All of this had gone down before anyone had even heard the album!

So did Lamar’s good kid, M.A.A.D. city live up to the hype? Here’s just sampling of scores it’s received from major music publications:

XXL: 100

Consequence of Sound:  100

Pitchfork: 95

Prefix: 95

Entertainment Weekly:            91

All Music Guide: 90

Pop Matters: 90

Here’s how good kid, M.A.A.D. city has ranked on the “Best Albums of Year” lists that have been released so far:

Spin Magazine: #2

Rolling Stone: #6

Stereogum: #3

Time Magazine: #2

Filter Magazine: #4

Hey mom! It’s Kendrick Lamar and that dude who makes over-priced headphones!

The only two major publications I can find that gave it a score below 80 were Tiny Mix Tapes and NME. Are these two publications that far off, or could it be that the other reviewers were blinded by the hype and rapped up by this deuce of an album?

I had to find out myself. I mean really, so many reviewers couldn’t be wrong, right? It has to be an incredible listen, an unforgettable collection of songs that will go down in hip-hop infamy, correct?

…may I approach the bench, sir?

First off, good kid, M.A.A.D. city is far from one of the top 10 best albums of 2012. In fact, it wouldn’t even come near my honorable mention list. It’s not even one of the top 10 best hip-hop albums of 2012 (in alphabetical order: Action Bronson, Brother Ali, Death Grips, El-P, Joey BadA$$, Killer Mike, Roc Marciano, Schoolboy Q, Theesatisfaction, Wu-Block). It’s not even the best album to come out of his Black Hippy Crew (Schoolboy Q’s “Habits & Contradictions”). For an album that has already been lauded as the most important rap LP of the 21st century, good kid, M.A.A.D city is one damn mediocre listen.

After a couple exhausting run-throughs of the album, I had to figure out what I was missing. I scoured the online reviews and saw many of the same catchwords being thrown out: “intelligent,” “narrative,” “sonically complex.”  I can’t think of three words that could be further from the truth.

Intelligent

In most reviews, it is a common sentiment that Kendrick Lamar is, simply put, a lyrical genius. They seem to think he’s a breath of fresh air in a genre where most artists focus solely on promoting themselves and talking about the usual suspects: money, violence, drugs, liquor, and treating women like a piece of meat. Instead of handpicking lyrics that show Lamar being an imitation of the predictable rap music of today (which would be like shooting fish in a barrel), I’m going to simply give you a sampling of the chorus/hook from each track on the album:

1. (No chorus, just lyrics about hitting on a chick with a big ass)

2. “Bitch don’t kill my vibe. Bitch don’t kill my vibe.”

3. “All my life I want money and power/ Respect my mind or die from lead shower / I pray my dick get as big as the Eiffel tower / So I can fuck the world for 72 hours”

4. “Me and the homies / Bullshitting, acting a fool / Me and the homies /Tripping, really tripping / Me and the homies / Just riding, just riding, just riding.”

5. “Ya bish, Ya bish / Ya bish, Ya bish”

6. “You can get it, you can get it /You can get it, you can get it / And I know just know just know just know just know just / What you want, Poetic Justice, put it in a song.”

7. “Mass hallucination baby / Ill education baby”

8. “Man down / Where you from, nigga? / Fuck you, where you from my nigga / No, where you from, my nigga?.’’

9. Nigga why you babysittin’ only 2 or 3 shots? / I’ma show you how to turn it up a notch / First you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it / Pool full of liquor, then you dive in it.”

10. “Promise that you will sing about me / Promise that you will sing about me.”

11. “I do what I wanna do / I say what I wanna say.”

12. “Compton, Compton / Ain’t no city quite like mine.”

Believe me, I could have nit-picked more stereotypical lyrics like going “to that Church’s Chicken,” “one pistol and orange soda,” “A shot of Henessey,” and of course,  “Beeotch! Beeotch! Beeotch!”, but I thought that’d be too easy. I figured including the hook for each song would illustrate my point.  This album is not some higher level, intelligent examination of the human condition as reviewers seem to believe; it’s an album about growing up on the streets of Compton, smoking pot, drinking liquor, and treating women like garbage.

Narrative

Some would argue that the reason some of the songs have such immature themes is because they are just part of the overall narrative. According interviews with Lamar, the album is intended to tell his life story, starting with him as an arrogant teenager, moving forward through the lessons learned on the streets of Compton, all leading toward the final track “Compton,” a supposed celebration of Lamar’s success after such a rough life.

The album starts with Kendrick as a teenager who likes to puff out his chest and go out searching for girls.  This would explain the first several sexist, moronic tracks, but why do these same themes continue throughout the entire album?

One of reviewers’ favorite parts of the album is the running answer machine messages that appear between tracks. Supposedly these help focus the storyline, but all I hear are people mumbling about “hood rats,” “Dominoes,” and “girl, you got a big ol’ fat ass.” Some reviews seem to see these fake answer machine messages as some type of voyeuristic look inside his life, poignant an insightful.  While some of them are just silly, others are filled with cheesy sentiments, like his mother’s message near the end of the album, “Come back a man, tell your story to these black and brown kids in Compton. Let ‘em know you was just like them, but you still rose from that dark place of violence, becoming a positive person.” This concludes Lamar’s after school special “Kendrick Learns To Become a Man (after taking a quick dip in a swimming pool full of liquor)”.

And if this is some type of epic, narrative, let me retell you this enthralling tale, track by track:

The story starts with 17-year-old Kendrick saying a prayer to God, followed by a trip to a party in El Segundo. He meets a girl there, they keep in touch, and months later when he goes to meet up with her, he sees two guys with guns. Suddenly we’re transported to his room, where he insists on telling some girl over and over and over that she’s a bitch and that she shouldn’t kill his vibe.  Transport to the backseat of a car with Kendrick flowing with his friends about how he wants a dick the size of the Eiffel Tower. His friends and him then go on a spree, robbing, drinking, and doing drugs, but in the end, they almost get caught by the cops. Next thing we know he’s dreaming of what life would be like as a rapper, sleeping under a money tree. Transport to Kendrick writing love poems and talking about how bad he wants to have sex with some girl.  He’s then walks to church and gets his neck stepped on by gang members, and then a little later by cops. To deal with the stress of getting his necked stepped on, Kendrick begins drinking a lot and dreams of building a swimming pool so he can swim laps in Patron. We then hear several of his friends begging him to sing about them when they die. Unfortunately, one of the guys gets shot mid-verse – yikes! Next thing we know, Kendrick has money, power, and respect but he still has a hole in his heart. But just as we think he’s sad, he’s alongside Dr. Dre talking about how much they love Compton. And really, it sounds like a wonderful place, right? Oh, and then Kendrick says another prayer.

Quite the cohesive, enthralling narrative, right?

Sonically Complex

It’s a huge overstatement to call good kid, M.A.A.D. city sonically complex (I saw these exact words paired up in several reviews – plagiarism much?). First of all, none of the beats or production on this album are innovative. Much of the album feels disjointed, probably a result of having so many different producers offering up their talents (or lack of) to each track. For an album that is considered by some as an instant classic, musically, it is a mish mash of rap genres that don’t mesh.

In terms of his skills as an MC, Kendrick offers up some great lines and on several occassions, he exhibits his skills at spitting out lyrics at machine-gun speed. Then again, his voice offers nothing in the way of anything that should be considered unique. It’s straight-forward, nasal, and lacking the emotional heft that an album with “deep themes” should contain. He attempts to take on several personas in the album, but his abilities at vocal impressions ranks up there with Joe Piscopo.

The most important component to reviewing an album is the actual music. Not the sound clips between songs. Not the lyrics. Not the over-riding narrative which, as already noted, has more holes and flaws than “Troll 2.” When it comes down to it, all reviews should be about the songs (obviously). Don’t get me wrong, songs like “Backstreet Freestyle” and “Swimming Pools,” as moronic as they are lyrically, are both catchy, radio singles waiting to happen (“Swimming Pools” already gaining steam). But to consider the overall effect of the music as anything but commonplace is a stretch as big as a vagina fucked by the Eiffel Tower for 72 hours.

As corny as that last line was, if it were used in a Kendrick Lamar song, reviewers would call it genius. Now if only  BDWPS could get a little bit of hype…

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56 Comments

Filed under Album Rebuttal, Album Review

56 responses to “Most Overrated Album of 2012: Kendrick Lamar “good kid, M.A.A.D. city”

  1. I’ll agree that some of the lyrics are childish or “cheesy”, but 5.3/10? Really? Yes, the theme of the album is him at 17 years of age, & the struggles he faced. The music reminded me of 90’s gansta rap and older Outkast songs. To me the album was great. I can’t say it is overrated at all, I loved it after the 1st listen. Hell, I put it in my top 10.
    I’d also like to point out that you like Schoolboy Q’s album better & his lyrics are the most childish of all the Black Hippy members. I like them all, but Schoolboy is by far the most childish of the bunch.

    • Ace Dreams

      Hahaha you aren’t a critic so much as you are as a pessimist when it comes to talking about this. You just sound like you have a complete dislike of Kendrick Lamar why couldn’t you quote lyrics of his that had meaning for Example “Now I done grew up
      Round some people living their life in bottles
      Granddaddy had the golden flask
      Back stroke every day in Chicago
      Some people like the way it feels
      Some people wanna kill their sorrows
      Some people wanna fit in with the popular
      That was my problem
      I was in the dark room
      Loud tunes, looking to make a vow soon
      That I’mma get fucked up, fillin’ up my cup” (Swimming Pools) and another song “I love first verse cause you’re the girl I attract
      I love second verse cause your the homie they packed
      Burning like a stove top, they love cooking from scratch
      I love what the both of you have to offer
      In fact, I love it so much
      I don’t love anything else
      But what love got to do with it when I don’t love myself
      To the point I should hate everything I do love
      Should I hate living my life inside the club
      Should I hate her for watching me for that reason
      Should I hate him for telling me that I’m season
      Should I hate them for telling me ball out
      Should I hate street credibility I’m talkin’ about
      Hatin’ all money, power, respect in my will
      I’m hatin’ the fact that none of that shit make me real” (Real)
      It’s so sad that your mind so closed

  2. Charles

    Wow, I thought I was the only person who felt this way. This album is way overrated. Kendrick Lamar NEVER brought anything new to the Hip-Hop table to be labeled a classic. The production was alright but isn’t that far away from other mainstream albums from pop rappers. -.- These new music reviewers are shit. People need to open there eyes more into HipHop and stop overrating albums these pop rap albums with nothing inspiring or innovating.

  3. I am glad somebody said it. He has a great voice and delivery, and I really liked section #80. But this was just run of the mill, not genius.

  4. I just read your blog again and I completely agree. Where was the intelligence? Like I said, he has great delivery. He certainly has mastered his flow. And the production is solid. But the beats sound old, and the lyrics never really rise above his “teenage years”. There are moments of greatness, but they never seem to be present in both lyrics and beats at the same time.
    This was the review I had back in October
    http://imveryape.com/2012/10/23/imperfect-yes-engaging-absolutely/

    • David

      If you’re honestly curious where the intelligence is, rather than just asking a closed-minded rhetorical question, you should take a look at the full lyrics, rather than cherry-picking from the hooks:

      “Look inside these walls and you see I’m having withdrawals
      Of a prisoner on his way trapped inside your desire
      To fire bullets that stray, track attire just tell you
      I’m tired and ran away, I should ask a choir
      What do you require to sing a song that acquire me to have faith
      As the record spin I should pray for the record I recognize
      That I’m easily prey, I got ate alive yesterday
      I got animosity building, it’s probably big as a building
      Me jumping off of the roof is me just playing it safe
      But what am I supposed to do when the topic is red or blue
      And you understand that I ain’t, but know I’m accustomed to
      Just a couple that look for trouble and live in the street with rank
      No better picture to paint than me walking from bible study
      And called his homies because he had said he noticed my face
      From a function that tooken place, they was wondering if I bang
      Step on my neck and get blood on your Nike checks
      I don’t mind cause one day you’ll respect, the good kid, m.A.A.d. city”

  5. Shark

    I’m glad that I’m not the only one that shares this sentiment. I’ve had many people give me the stink-eye when I said the same thing & then was called a “hater”.

    Honestly, I listened to it, several times (even with his other projects)…it just doesn’t resonate with me at all. Production is aight, hella catchy at times but I couldn’t tolerate the voice & the vocal changes he does.

    All these stans and reviewers are truly on some shit saying “classic” this, “innovative” that. If one would listen pass the tripe that the rap hype machine throws at you, you’d be blessed with a plethora of other more worthwhile listens. Don’t believe the hypebeast.

    • SomeoneSmarterThanYou

      I wouldn’t be surprised if your “plethora of worthwhile listens” was littered with shite underground rappers who wouldn’t get a second look because of their obscene levels of mediocrity.

      • Shark

        I wouldn’t be surprised if you have a “kendrick lamar” tattoo on your arm.

      • teaj

        the truth is people gave kendrick lamar more chances than other equally as talented artists because they think they are supposed to like it.

  6. Frank

    Stopped reading after I realized that you don’t even know the lyrics to the songs you were criticizing. Also, you brought up those lyrics mentioning that they were just rapping about the usual “suspects” that other rappers are raping about and critics who claimed him a breath of fresh air are wrong. Well what you don’t know is some of the context that those lyrics were presented with in the song and what it has to do with the whole album. Open you’re mind!

    • This comment rules! And, if you had read on, you would have seen that I did analyze the lyrics. But YOU’RE free to YOUR own opinions.

      • SomeoneSmarterThanYou

        Your analysis was horrid, it didn’t include much depth whatsoever. Reviewing rap albums isn’t taking single lines out of context, it’s the entirety of the song and it’s place in the albums sequence that matters. Surely with all of your “genius” you would understand this.

      • I would love for you to explain what makes this album so great in your eyes.

      • Shark

        Damn, I hope someone is paying “SomeoneSmarterThanYou” with the amount of dickriding his doing in kendrick’s name.

  7. stefan

    Glad to know I’m not the only one that tells this way

  8. I 100% agree with you. Bought it. Listened. Meh. Friends and the interwebs had me questioning my self. Gave another listen. Meh. Haven’t listened to it since.

  9. bobby

    Kendrick is a CORNBALL! plain and simple; he tries to be intelligent and use words out of his everyday dictionary to make a point when actually he sounds like a ****ing idiot. This album sucked and so does he. Dr Dre had made some good decisions and some bad ones..Kendrick Lamar is by far is worst decision…

  10. Kiddcu

    it’s the most complex album I have heard in a very long time, and I’m not even a kendrick stan lolol

  11. Shark

    Just reading the reactionary troll comments makes it known that today’s “music fans” truly don’t know how to think for themselves. The mainstream is littered with crap and when someone with a slight difference is thrown your way, people gorge on it like it’s the greatest thing ever.

  12. I agree with your review 100%. I am really getting sick of people throwing out that he is the greatest MC without even mentioning One Be Lo, Black Thought, J-Live, Gift of Gab, Cise Star, ILLogic, Shad, REKS, and Elzhi (just some of my favorites who are better than kendrick). My personal favorite albums of the year which were much better than Kendrick’s album were Skyzoo’s A Dream Deferred and Masta Ace’s MA Doom: Son of Yvonne. Android50 how did you feel about those two releases?

  13. Wow! I think I’m way too fringe of a rap fan because I don’t know half of those names listed. Thanks for the suggestions! I will definitely have to check out Skyzoo’s “A Dream Deferred” (I’m a sucker for a Langston Hughe’s reference).

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  15. Blaze

    I disagree to an extent. Things to remember

    1. Section 80 hooks = Same as GKMC hooks
    kendrick doesnt want to be like royceDa59 or Crooked I. He wants females and young white men to be able to bob their heads and sing along so he can actually sell records & get radio play. So the same criticism deserves to be dished to S80 but not really because catchy hooks are a SKILL. he is skilled at what many “super lyrical” rappers are not. If hooks arent a skill then tell me why the same RnB singers & AutoTuners have to drive a rappers album singles……. Except for the ones who are good at making their own hooks: insert prime50cent, Lil Wayne, Drake, etc. So give kendrick his props because he kept catchy hooks in our ears without the cliche help of a TreySongs or Drake

    2. All Music Genres Dont Sell Like They Used Too
    Meaning, the “Dollar Danglers” and the “Real Risk Takers” (the label heads) have wayy more say on what makes the album & what doesnt. If you replace the MaryJB song, and 2 songs with Dr.Dre in them with some solo/original Kendrick songs, The album instantly upgrades. but because his label boss is also a washed up, lazy, unlyrical rap mate, his engineer, exec producer, and producer you can expect the album to be downgraded. Filler/Crossover Attempts were definitely inserted as much as possible

    3. A Story doesnt have to be told in chronological
    you are downing that man because his story isnt in straight line? Lol i dont even need to write more about this one

    So lets just say each of these points were points that could be added to your review score….. 5.3+3=8.3 goodness gracious, closer & closer to a classic

    You know you were lazy when addressing his subject matter but others dont so I will point it out:

    Not only is Kendrick trying to teach the young listeners a lesson about the dangers of gang life and the vices associated with it
    he is also telling a truthful story
    and making fun of said vices
    all in a catchy ass way

    You took his lyrics out of context either because you werent smart enough to catch the real meaning as to why he spat them, you arent a real reviewer, or you purposely did it, and is biased to Kendrick

    You fault him for not touching new subject matters & intelligent, technical lyrics but what if he did try? it would make for the most corniest rap album ever. Imagine that, a album with topics ranging from gang violence/crimes,teensex, grownsex with beautiful women, liquor abuse, makin it out da hood, weed/cali life, revenge, religion,family, motivation, death, etc. Then you suggest he adds on more intelligent shit like some super egoed lyricism about lyricism ala Rakim? or some uneducated political rants ala ImmTech? lol you are delusional if you think that would have made the album better

    Another thing is, THIS ALBUM IS ORIGINAL
    the fact that the whole album is a narrative is new per the past 5 or so years (im young)
    Doesnt feature some corny male RnB singer
    Beats are his own style
    turned poetic justice into a song
    has his own flow!
    him and engineer are sure to start a trend with these very complex Voice Pitch Effects!!
    thats a long list of original shit!!

    These are all reasons why its a classic.

    The only thing wrong with this album is that
    *it isnt boundary erasing like each of Kanye’s (who’s else is tho?)
    *gets a lboring and too slow from time to time (because it has a nice amout of meaningful verses & high grade lyrics actually and the beats *get a little stale too but they are waayyy better than any underground lyricist’s you can name)
    *contains filler, but like i said earlier, not much his fault and they are still good songs though

    I give it 8.6 out of 10
    could reach to 9.1 if he had more charisma, mic presence, emotion, and sense of urgency in verses. but then again,I read somewhere that Dr.Dre would make him redo words & verses until Dre felt it was said the right way. so here we go again with this creative control issue.

    He is not overrated as his potential has yet to be reached, and the album is atleast a 8.5 as to nowadays rappers struggle to get a 7

    • Shark

      …you just wrote in all caps that this album is “ORIGINAL”?
      Hahaha, your novella sounds like you just started listening to Hip Hop, get the fuck outta here.

      • Ace Dreams

        Please tell who you think are lyrical genius in rap right now please I’d like to see your list

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  17. Joe

    Reading this while taking a dump?…laughed my ass off.

    I’m a 52 yr old white guy and listened to Three Feet High…. And Phrenology at work today…..” I knew Jack Kennedy…you sir are no Jack Kennedy.”

    Keep up the good work!

  18. Miles

    Kendrick lamar is one of the best current rappers i admit there was tons of hype but all that hype made sense its not one of the best albums it is the best. His lyrics and his storytelling best in a while

  19. Markaveli

    Hold the fuck up bro your narrative was fucked you don’t really fucking listen to the lyrics he does not call the girl who he’s talking to a fucking bitch the song is not even about that its about the industry DUMB ASS and how so many rappers are holding him back, and telling them Bitch, don’t kill my vibe. You probably thought that song was Ignorant and shit but guess what ITS FUCKING NOT. So what you need to do is go to rap genius and have fun BECAUSE YOU KNOW NOTHING. Ya bish

    • You know you’re in for an intelligent conversation when a post begins with “Hold the fuck up bro” and ends with “Ya bish.”

      • thetruest

        you conveniently avoided his point and ignored his post, and are a narcissistic idiot.

      • If he’d actually made a point instead of browbeating, I may have actually responded. Arguing that the song is about the music industry doesn’t make a difference; a chorus of “Bitch don’t kill my vibe” is garbage, any way you slice it.

      • Harris Davidson

        Sure, the guy is an idiot and doesn’t know how to express his point, but you should still be able to tell what he’s actually criticizing you for. Or, maybe you actually can’t see what he’s saying, which would suggest a general inability on your part to understand things that aren’t spoonfed to you.

        The criticism lies with your narrative summary, where you claim he’s telling a woman she’s a bitch, and that she better not kill his vibe. The problem is that’s not what those lyrics are referring to; markaveli is correct, even while he moronically attempts to get across his point.

        So the challenge remains with you. No one cares whether you think ‘bitch don’t kill my vibe’ is a good chorus or not; but a number of dissenting comments on here are looking to see whether or not you’ll admit to or at least defend you’re incorrect narrative summary and lyrical decontextualization.

        For the record, I’m a fan of Lamar, but I think reviews are garbage as a general rule.

  20. Lewis

    sorry this is a shit review, 5.3 ? really ? the whole point of the album is that it tells the story of good kids (every kid in compton, none are born evil) growing up in a mad city that throws all types of vices at them. There are naive good times (Backseat Freestyle hence the 17 year old kendrick bragging about his dick size because hes freestylign in front of his friends) and bad times (his friend is killed at the end of swimming pools)

    and seriously your telling me “Sing about me/ dying of thirst” isnt one of the best tracks of the last few years ? the first verse is dedicated to a guy whose brother died in kendricks arms and the brother asked him if he ever made it in the music business he would write a song about them – subsequently the brother passed a few months after his brother did the second verse is directed at the sister of the prostitute that was murdered that kendrick rapped about on Section 80 “Keishas song” she was angry at him for having made that song and he explains why he made it. the third verse is a reflection on himself and these lyrics are shit then ?

    “I suffer a lot and every day the glass mirror
    Get tougher to watch, I tie my stomach in knots
    And I’m not sure why I’m infatuated with death
    My imagination is surely an aggravation of threats
    That can come about cause the tongue is mighty powerful
    And I can name a list of your favorites that probably vouch
    Maybe cause I’m a dreamer and sleep is the cousin of death
    Really stuck in the scheme, wondering when I’mma rest
    And you’re right, your brother was a brother to me (first verse)
    And your sister’s situation was the one that pulled me (second verse)
    In a direction to speak of something that’s realer than the TV screen
    By any means, wasn’t trying to offend or come between
    Her personal life, I was like “it need to be told”
    Cursing the life of 20 generations after her soul
    Exactly what’d happen if I ain’t continued rapping”

    Basically your the sort of person who takes things completely literally and unfortunately that is a trait commonly found in stupid people for example you think that “bitch dont kill my vibe” is a song about him calling a woman a bitch because she is killing his vibe ? wow. its a song about him reflecting on his past and where he is now – realising that despite escaping the obvious dangers of compton he feels just as much negativity in his new position of fame and wealth.

    Anyway I dont know why im bothering clearly your incapable or even worse unwilling to try and listen to the album properly. Id understand a slight criticism of it being slightly overblown but your article is just pedantic, childish and not very smart even better just admit that you dont personally understand it or like it but dont try and say that everyone critic is a complete idiot and your the only one that truly sees it for what it is …..you’ll start to come across as another certain hip hop artist who compares himself to Da vinci, steve jobs and jesus every five seconds.

    Finally I’d love you to review one of Shakespeare’s plays like you did this album:
    “all the world’s a stage” = duh its a planet not a stage dummy
    shakespeare ….overated and overhyped. = 4.3/10

    • Why is it that every person who disagrees with this post insists on calling me stupid while writing a nonsensical diatribe completely devoid of capitalization and littered with spelling and punctuation errors? (your/you’re, its/it’s, and-so-on/and-so-forth). Secondly, I find it ironic that you allude to Kanye considering that Kendrick is currently opening for him on his tour (Judas to Kanye’s Jesus?). Thirdly, I would consider Shakespeare a tad overrated, although not to the extent of Lamar (and I might give “Midsummer Night’s Dream a 4.3 – what a pointless final Act!).

      I do appreciate you breaking down the songs because it does shed some light on what he is rapping about (I didn’t know I needed to read Kendrick’s life story in order to like the album), but those explanations don’t make the album any better. He’s a sophomoric lyricist and his vocal approach is amateurish, bordering on annoying.

      I don’t think all reviewers that gave it a high score are stupid, but I do think many of them got caught up in the hype (i.e. just because Pitchfork likes it, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good).

      P.S. Shakespeare never wrote a play that was as disjointed and self-serving as “good kid M.A.A.D. city” (he also had a habit of using correct spelling, usage, punctuation, and capitalization).

      • Common Sensed Poster

        “Why is it that every person who disagrees with this post insists on calling me stupid while writing a nonsensical diatribe completely devoid of capitalization and littered with spelling and punctuation errors? ”

        LMFAO! THIS ^

  21. yarry

    I don’t understand why people are getting so upset about this 1 review haha.
    1) Not every single person loved Illmatic but it is still considered, arguably the best rap album ever. There isn’t one album out there that everybody loved, we are all different.
    2) Check the source – this isn’t even a hip-hop/rap website. Android50 even says in one of his comments, “I think I’m way too fringe of a rap fan” so why does anybody think think that he should know anymore about rap then any of the people commenting on the article lol. Go look at his top albums of 2013 so far, it’s not like he’s really a rap fan at all.
    3) When non-rap fans judge rap, Macklemore wins rap album of the year at the AMA’s. You wouldn’t put much validation into a hockey player telling you the hardest position to play in cricket, so take it all with a grain of salt.
    4) The whole point of this website is to introduce the readers to new stuff they haven’t heard of. Go look at the mission statement, “If you are a musician and would like us to expose your music to our readers, just send an email”. It really goes against their whole philosophy to promote albums and artists that are already household names.

  22. Aidan

    *sigh* death grips fans

  23. Chigga Nad

    I’m sorry but rap nowadays is blasphemy. Hip hop went from the world Olympics to the god damn special Olympics. As for “k-dot”, he is as lyrical as a procrastinating 3rd grader who wrote the previous night’s poetry homework on the bus ride to school. His rhymes are more predictable than your own daily routine. I will say the beat on dre’s beats commercial is dope, but obviously because dre is behind the production. To sum it up, his realest line ” nigga you never be jay, never be nas, never be snoop nor dre”. Smh at the illmatic comparison that’s simply outrageous! Kendrick is in the same lane as:
    1. 90s rappers
    – Craig Mack
    – loon
    – canibus ( throwing Kendrick a bone )
    – juvenile
    – Ja rule
    2. 00s
    – dipset
    – Memphis bleek
    – shyne
    – mike jones
    – chingy
    3. 10s
    – Mac miller
    – yelawolf
    – kid cudi
    – Gucci mane
    – wakka flakka
    My point is they had a mainstream presences during that time and looking back they are forgotten. The usual suspects are remembered through each era : nas, jay, eminem, dre, snoop and wu tang amongst other legends. I’m not a hater, just a realist. Disclaimer: my views aren’t simply limited to Kendrick Lamar, I feel this way about hip hops present state as a whole.

  24. I totally understand the notion of hype in the music industry. And I really enjoy the style that this blog was written in. It’s filled with a lot of passion about music, which is all I’m looking for in any comment about an album—be it a review or straight-up rebuttal. But I do think that there is quite a lot of complexity in this record. On “m.a.a.d. city,” for instance, Lamar is really positioning himself within the tradition of West Coast rap; it’s hard to not hear Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” powering that track. And, sure, Lamar is under Dr. Dre’s wing. Yet, this track (and, I’d argue, the entire record) is really inserting itself in a tradition of rap music and hip hop culture. It’s almost a metatextual kind of album that many respect…”Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” moreover, is as narratively complex as possible. Lamar adopts different points of views, jumping genders and social perspectives with such awareness.

    In short, I really do think the album is great. It’s no where near a classic like Nas’s “Illmatic” or Mobb Deep’s “The Infamous” or Big L’s “Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous” (YES, this album is a classic to me!) or 2Pac’s “All Eyez on Me,” but Lamar’s album is still exceptional in its ambition and, in my eyes, success. I should add, though, that I’m also a massive Kendrick fan. I can’t be totally (or even a little bit) impartial when it comes to Kendrick.

  25. Jack

    This is fucking spot on. People calling this shit instant classing wouldn’t know real hip hop even if it smacked them in the face

  26. Tochi K

    I’ve been listening to hip hop since the mid 90s. I’m a massive hip hop fan and your review is spot on. I remember coming across your review back in 2012 when it first got posted, and loved it. This is an internet classic. Hip hop journalism as a whole is in such dire straits because the writers are beholden to the record labels, not the public. Most of them aren’t informed about hip hop culture and are working within hip hop strictly for their own agendas. Anyway, bravo

    • Tochi K

      by the way, I would love to get your opinion on Live.Love.ASAP. If you ask me, THATS the incredible hip hop album that people overlook. But has been gaining steam over the years as more people realize it is fantastic. That album is sonically complex.

  27. ntomlin79

    Let’s hear an update considering TPAB???…enjoy your writing.

  28. This critic is stupid

    Reading this 3 years after the album came out and it really makes u look so stupid u really must not have listened to swimming pools well enough because it’s not intended to be about him swimming in patron it’s about him and struggles he’s had with drinking and that’s just one of many things u misinterpreted u really need to go look at the lyrics again because there’s some deep shit on this album but ur probably some old white fuck who wouldn’t know a dam thing about living in Compton not trying to say I would either because I don’t but u completely took this album wrong and as of 2015 u look like the biggest dumbass of 2012 this shits a classic and so TPAB and your still a dumbass

    • “You’re a dumbass” says the guy who writes a run-on sentence response with words like “u” and “ur.” Then again, this is the good kid who thinks diving into a pool full of liquor is some deep metaphor. Sorry, but it’s a little too on the nose for my taste. Kendrick has some catchy songs but his lyrics sound like the poetry of a teenager, “ya bish.”

      • This critic is stupid

        Alright its not like I’m trying to write a professional article or review I’m trying to get my point across that you obviously don’t know anything about hip-hop, for example you’re calling his hooks childish and then you go off saying schoolboy q had a better album and no offense to schoolboy cause I love his music but they are way more childish then kendricks and obviously you must be realizing how wrong you are about this album because your only defense to comments like mine is “you can’t even use proper grammar” . you havent had one decent argument with anyone who had a negative comment to say about your article.

      • I’ve never claimed to be an expert on hip hop. In fact, I think I mention this in my review. My argument in the article isn’t that it’s a bad album; I’m arguing that it’s highly overrated (a stance I still take). It has some catchy songs but it’s not the profound work of art many believe it to be. As I point out in the review, it’s a flawed album. Does Kendrick have some great lyrical moments? Sure, but they are often followed by lazy, amateurish lyricism. Just look at his growth as a writer on To Pimp a Butterfly! That album has many more powerful moments that don’t require interludes of gun shots and answering machines to try and heighten the experience. Musically he took more chances with Pimp with all its jazz/improv influences. Musically, Maad City is all over the map. I don’t think it’s a great album, and I wrote the article because I felt many critics were jumping on the wagon like lemmings. If you love it, that’s all that really matters. Also, you’re totally right about Schoolboy Q. Not sure why I used him as an example!

      • This critic is stupid

        Oh and I ever said “Diving into a pool of liquor” was a deep metaphor I said that u clearly misinterpreted the song and how it’s about his struggles with alcohol, listen to the actual lyrics of the raps not just hooks. Kendrick has even stated in interviews and in a video that was taped of him being a guest speaker for school class that the song was about his struggles with alcohol

      • This critic is stupid

        Alright that’s respectable, I still do believe that you may have given this album way too low of a rating. This album is definitely not a illmatic, me against the world, or 36 Chambers but I think you’d have to be crazy to give this album a 5.3 out of 10 because like it or not this album is considered to be one of the greatest west coast hip-hop albums of all time and one of the greatest hip-hop albums in general. But thanks for at least giving a respectable response about why you dislike although I think you still go back and review the lyrics and maybe taking some of them so literal(referencing to how you said he went on telling a girl not to kill his vibe among others).

  29. Francis

    “Suddenly we’re transported to his room, where he insists on telling some girl over and over and over that she’s a bitch and that she shouldn’t kill his vibe.”

    No. Completely missed the point of the song.

    “Transport to the backseat of a car with Kendrick flowing with his friends about how he wants a dick the size of the Eiffel Tower.”

    Obviously missed the point of the song.

    “He’s then walks to church and gets his neck stepped on by gang members, and then a little later by cops.”

    Forreal? Wasn’t this proceeding after Sherane (the song) in which he sees the two dudes outside of her house. They approach him while he is in his car at the end of Poetic Justice and ambush him. He was not going to a church. And forgive me, but did he get stomped out by some cops? I don’t believe so.

    “To deal with the stress of getting his necked stepped on, Kendrick begins drinking a lot and dreams of building a swimming pool so he can swim laps in Patron.”

    No. I believe, at the end of M.a.a.d City, Kendrick’s friends are encouraging him to drink, after having hit the laced blunt(i believe). Kendrick doesn’t dream about building a swimming pool and filling it with liquor, someone else is telling him how to drink, by getting a “swimming pool full of liquor and diving in”.

    “We then hear several of his friends begging him to sing about them when they die. Unfortunately, one of the guys gets shot mid-verse – yikes!”

    There was only one of them telling Kendrick to sing about him when they die (Dave’s brother i believe), this is one of the most important songs on the album, and he just breezes over it, brushing it off as melodramatic.

    You basically just straw-manned Kendrick’s whole story. There are so many fallacies within this retelling of Kendrick’s narrative, that i feel disgusted. Jesus Christ, if you’re going to critique an album, understand it.

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