good kid, m.A.A.d city is the second studio album and major-label debut of American rapper Kendrick Lamar. Billed as a "short film", the album plays as a fictionalized narrative about Lamar's teenage experiences in Compton, California, deconstructing Gangsta Rap by featuring a Darker and Edgier vision of teenage gang life.
The young Lamar - referred to as K-dot - isn't such a "good kid" when he's "with the homies"; he claims to believe in sobriety and nonviolence but discards both in their presence, barely evading arrest and suffering through bad drug trips as a result. Distracted by sexual fantasies, K-dot impulsively drives into the wrong neighborhood alone to hook up with Love Interest Sherane. Two blocks from her home, Lamar is instead intercepted by members of a rival gang who predictably beat him senseless for his trouble.
Tired of Running, Lamar's friends get into a shootout to avenge him and drive off the other gang members at the cost of one of their own, seemingly ensuring a Cycle of Revenge. Encouraged by family and religious figures not to continue down this path, K-dot is implied to find religion and grows into a successful rap artist.
good kid, m.A.A.d city released to near-unanimous critical acclaim with many readily declaring it an instant classic. Lamar himself was somewhat cooler, calling his work "classic-worthy" but claiming it still needed to pass the test of time to be considered a true classic. The album has an average critical score of 91 on Metacritic and also debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, netting the highest first-week sales of any male rapper in 2012.
The album also controversially lost several of its five Grammy Award nominations, including Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance, to Macklemore (for his album The Heist and his song "Thrift Shop", respectively). The confusion from these decisions was on such a massive scale that Macklemore personally apologized via text to Lamar after the award ceremony.
- "Sherane, a.k.a. Master Splinter's Daughter" (4:33)
- "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" (5:10)
- "Backseat Freestyle" (3:32)
- "The Art of Peer Pressure" (5:24)
- "Money Trees" (6:26)
- "Poetic Justice" (5:00)
- "good kid" (3:34)
- "m.A.A.d city" (5:50)
- "Swimming Pools (Drank)" (5:13)
- "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst" (12:03)
- "Real" (7:23)
- "Compton" (4:08)
Seem like the whole trope list go against me, very time I scroll down I read:
- The Alcoholic: "Swimming Pools (Drank)" is from the perspective of one.
- all lowercase letters: The title "good kid".
- Album Title Drop: The album title is drop at the end of each verse in "good kid".
- All There in the Manual: Averted Trope; the spoken word sketches common to rap albums here color in the narrative rather than serving as comic relief.
- Anachronic Order: The narrative jumps back and forth between Kendrick getting jumped on his way to meet Sherane, hanging out with his friends, and voicemails from his parents. The story ultimately begins at the end of the second track, when K-dot is invited to come along with some friends.
- Anti-Hero: Kendrick is sympathetic, but displays horrible judgement and is hardly heroic.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Exaggerated for comedy in "Backseat Freestyle":I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower
So I can fuck the world for 72 hours!
- Bittersweet Ending: Kendrick's friend gets shot and killed after they retaliate against Sherane's cousins jumping Kendrick at the end of "Swimming Pools (Drank)". He and his friends, in a broken rage, are about to fight back until an elderly woman convinces him to not to and embrace God as a way to recover in "Sing About Me, Dying of Thirst" and Kendrick's able to slowly recover and cope with the events in "Real", with his mother and father sending their voicemails to comfort him from the ordeal, his mother encouraging him to follow up with Top Dawg Entertainment and tell his story to the kids of Compton and "give back to his city".
- Boastful Rap: "Backseat Freestyle" is an exaggerated version and possibly a partial deconstruction, clearly meant as the work of an immature teenager. It's also a Discussed Trope during one sketch - two of K-dot's friends work out that anyone successful enough to actually make these isn't on the streets enough to back them up.
- Broken Record: In "Real", in the bridge section, Anna Wise sings "Sing my song, it's all for you" 16 times.
- Call-and-Response Song: "Poetic Justice" provides a Sampling-based variant in the chorus, where Lamar's repeated "you can get it" queues Janet Jackson singing "anyplace" and "anytime" in response.
- Catchphrase/Singer Namedrop: Record Producer Just Blaze inserts his on "Compton", though it also functions in context as a drug reference.
- Censor Box: The eyes of all the people on the album cover have been blackboxed, save for the child (which is the artist himself).
- Coming-of-Age Story: The later songs imply that K-Dot takes responsibility for his life after years of ill-judgment "when he's with the homies".
- Concept Album: It's a short film. An actual short film adaptation, directed by Lamar, is supposedly in the works.
- Darker and Edgier: This album is much darker and more introspective than most hip-hop music that was coming out in the early 2010s. Even the music itself is more down-tempo than its peers.
- Epic Rapping: Sort of. Many tracks run long, but the spoken-word sketches are responsible in large part - live versions are actually more reasonable in length.
- Fun with Acronyms: "m.A.A.d city", as revealed by Lamar, refers both to "My Angry Adolescence Divided" and "My Angels on Angel Dust".
- Genre Deconstruction: ''good kid, m.A.A.d City" is a critique on Gangster Rap and pointing out how empty the lifestyle is and how it instead will lead those down darker paths, as K-Dot almost does after the events of "Swimming Pools (Drank)".
- Genre Throwback: The latter section of "m.A.A.d city" shifts into an old-school Gangsta Rap style.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: The first track introduces Sherane as "Master Splinter's Daughter" - she's a hood rat, you see.
- Letting the Air Out of the Band: The end of "Poetic Justice", leading to the skit setting up the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- One-Word Title: "Real", "Compton"
- Period Piece: Various references in the lyrics place the album in the mid-2000s.
- Riddle for the Ages: Why did Kendrick's dad keep asking about dominoes? Was he talking about an actual set of dominoes, or did he want Domino's Pizza, or (as some have theorized) was "dominoes" in this case a slang term for amphetamines?
- Running Gag:Where my mothafuckin dominoes at?!
- "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" contains a sample of "Tiden Flyver" as performed by Boom Clap Bachelors.
- "The Art of Peer Pressure" contains a sample of "Helt Alene" as performed by Suspekt.
- "Money Trees" contains a sample of "Silver Soul" as performed by Beach House.
- "Poetic Justice" contains a sample of "Any Time, Any Place" as performed by Janet Jackson.
- "m.A.A.d city" contains a sample of "Don't Change Your Love" as performed by The Five Stairsteps, "Funky Worm" by The Ohio Players, and "A Bird In The Hand" by Ice Cube.
- "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst" contains a sample of "Maybe Tomorrow" as performed by Grant Green, "I'm Glad You're Mine" by Al Green and "Use Me" by Bill Withers.
- "Compton" contains a sample of "What's This World Coming To" as performed by Formula IV.
- "The Recipe" contains a sample of "Meet the Frownies" as performed by Twin Sister.
- "Backseat Freestyle" contains a sample of "Yo Soy Cubano", by The Chakachas.
- Song Style Shift: "Good Kid" starts off with a beat reminiscent of classic g-funk, but it becomes dark and atmospheric when it gets to the first verse.
- Special Guest: Drake, Jay Rock, MC Eiht, and Dr. Dre all take guest verses on the album proper. The rest of Lamar's Black Hippy supergroup appear on bonus tracks from various versions and Jay-Z appears on a remixed "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe". Lady Gaga was supposed to appear on "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe", but Creative Differences and scheduling issues put a stop to that.
- Tempting Fate: "Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst":Just promise me you'll tell this story when you make it big/And if I die before your album drop I hope (gunshots)