good kid, m.A.A.d. cityWith the release of good kid, m.A.A.d. city Kendrick Lamar has officially crossed over to the pop mainstream, no longer will you hear the same MC that tore through Section.80 or turned heads with No Sleep ‘Til NYC. Instead what you’ll get is a supremely talented lyricist looking to conform to the box set forth before him – you can thank Aftermath and Interscope for that. That’s not to say that the prodigy’s major label debut good kid, m.A.A.d. city is a poor effort either. It’s not. Plenty of choice sentiments to parse through here, from casual peer pressure cruises to putting Compton back on the hip hop conscious, as we break down its kaleidoscopic style into our five favorite lines thus far:


The Art of Peer Pressure

The Art of Peer PressureThe track opens with a brooding beat reminiscent of an old-school Mobb Deep track. Kendrick glides over the beat on cruise control, and casually paints a picture of what peer pressure is like in his world. And we’re not talking the whimsy type, but the one that could bury a person for good. Smooth banger here with all the subtleties of a fall bloom classic: [LISTEN]

I’m usually a true firm believer of bad karma
Consequences from evil will make your past haunt you



Money Trees

Money TreesA simple, slow-groover with a silly hook. But hidden underneath all that is a story about money and its enticing pull. Kendrick relays how money will crush a person, but it’ll also liberate them from some damning circumstances. Finishing off the song is longtime friend and collaborator Jay Rock who provides some thunder to Kendrick’s lightening – a perfect song to close out a long night of debauchery: [LISTEN]

And I been hustlin’ all day, this a way, that a way
Through canals and alleyways, just to say
Money trees is the perfect place for shade and that’s just how I feel

The Recipe

The RecipeIt’s almost a given that if an MC goes mainstream there has to be at least one song that shouts out every major city, a catcall to garner as many fans as possible. This one runs through them all, with LA being the Valhalla. It’s been a while since there’s been a solid LA anthem, and this one gets close. Maybe it’s Dre‘s verse that adds validity to it, but Kendrick and producer Scoop DeVille do a damn good job on their own. Sweet, choppy vocals and orchestral touches make it a standout: [LISTEN]

Pretty bitches and tire marks, let ‘em inhale them pipe exhausts
Let ‘em reveal how much it costs for this life controlling my vice

Black Boy Fly

Black Boy FlyIt’s strange. Once Snoop and Dre blew up it’s like the world at large forgot about Compton. Here Kendrick looks to stimulate dialogue. The beat marches forward with string samples and low-fi keys, which adds a mellowed-out drama to the portrait. Kendrick then proceeds to pay respect to some of the lesser-knowns natives of Compton including Arron Afflalo and Jayceon Taylor. It’s a nod to those who thought of a way out, and actually had the guts to make it happen: [LISTEN]

Taylor made a career out of music from writing songs
A Buick had driven past bumping him when I mowed the lawn

Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst

Sing About Me, I'm dying of ThirstHearing the break to Al Green’s “I’m Glad You’re Mine” instantly conjures up interest. The problem is that most times it doesn’t live up to the expectations. This song is broken up into two parts with two producers, and both do a good enough job masking the break as to allow for a different experience all together. Kendrick bobs and weaves for twelve minutes like a heavyweight fighter. Lyrically he is surgical, which if this is your first time listening to him it’ll no doubt leave you wanting more: [LISTEN]

A doctor’s approval is a waste of time, I know I’m straight
I’ll probably live longer than you and never fade away
I’ll never fade away, I’ll never fade away