Last week critically acclaimed up and coming hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar released Good Kid, m.a.a.d. City, his first album on Dr. Dre’s legendary Aftermath Records. Executive Produced by Anthony ‘Top Dawg’ Tiffith and the Gangsta Funk Godfather Dr. Dre, Lamar’s latest release sounds like G-Funk for 2012. It’s exciting to hear somebody picking up where The Chronic 2001 left off. Eleven years later, Lamar brings authenticity in content and Dre brings the OG beats to culminate in the most impressive batch of hip hop in a long while. To be clear, both the music and the rapping are incredible. Each beat is unique, and with around a dozen producers, it’s easy to understand where the sonic diversity comes from. What’s equally impressive is Kendrick Lamar’s ability to suit each beat with the perfect flow.
Some stand out tracks include:
‘The Recipe’ (feat Dr. Dre): Originally the debut single for the album Good Kid, m.a.a.d. City, ‘The Recipe’ is now a bonus track on the Spotify Deluxe release. It’s a laid back G-Funk track about “Weed, women, and weather.” Just like the classics, it makes you want to kick back and burn some of that good Cali bud.
‘The Art of Peer Pressure:’ With those quintessential G-Funk keyboard riffs, ‘The Art of Peer Pressure’ shines out of the speakers. The introduction is upbeat and reminiscent of one of those old Bone Thugs n Harmony songs, but without the harmonies. Between 1:10 and 1:30 there’s a ten second bass interlude, then the beat and the mood drop. Lamar brings you into his hot boxed white Chevy on the street in Compton. Definitively somber, it’s apparent something tragic will happen somewhere in the track, and through Lamar’s mediumistic perspective and authentic voice-over skits, the tragedy isn’t so much one event as it is the entire thug life ideal.
‘Good Kid’ is perhaps the most interesting track on the album. It sounds like a combination of The Spooks’ ‘Karma Hotel’ and Deltron 3030’s ‘Things You Can Do.’ The subject matter is consistent with the rest of this album’s material, street issues but with an intelligent approach. The smart rapper stuck in the bad place doing bad things because there’s little to no choice, but also he kind of wants to.
It may be too early to tell but, Good Kid, m.a.a.d. City feels like the newest installation in the vein of music spanning back to Curtis Mayfield and Gil Scott-Heron: culturally aware funk and jazz, which gave rise to the G-Funk movement in the 90’s, and is now being revived with Compton’s latest and greatest emcee: Kendrick Lamar.