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In the 1990s, rap music dominated the music industry. While some rap songs got radio play, the more volatile form, known as “gangsta rap” was at its strongest with artists such as Snoop Dogg and The Notorious B.I.G.
After the murder of rapper Tupac Shakur (aka 2Pac) in 1996, and the collapse of West Coast Rap Giant “Death Row Records,” West Coast gangsta rap took a downturn. Newer West Coast artists, such as Game, have tried to breathe life back into the genre, but to no avail.
Released on Oct. 22, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” is new West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut under Aftermath, Top Dawg and Interscope Records. With the debut of this album, under executive producer Dr. Dre (Andre Yong), hope is restored in the almost forgotten genre.
Born in Compton, Calif. in 1987, Lamar got his first taste of gangsta rap when he witnessed 2Pac and fellow rapper Dr. Dre filming for their single “California Love. In 2003, Lamar released his first mixtape, which gained enough attention for him to be signed to Top Dawg Entertainment. Lamar caught Dr. Dre’s attention after the release of his fifth mix tape, “Overly Dedicated” in 2010.
“Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” is exactly what the west has needed to get back on the map. Lamar, Dr. Dre’s new protégé raps as if he can take over the world with his lyrics. In the song “Backseat Freestyle,” Lamar boldly compares himself to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and expresses his need for success.
“Martin had a dream/ Kendrick have a dream/All my life I want money and power.” Lamar’s rap style complements the beats very well throughout the album, as they seem to roll over them flawlessly and effortlessly.
Lamar’s themes and style are similar to late rapper 2Pac’s, especially in the song “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst.” In terms of foreshadowing death and living up to the gangsta rap style, this song hits the mark.
“When I ride it’s a murderous rhythm/and outside became pitch black/a demon glued to my back whispering, ‘Get ‘em.’ ”
Dr. Dre adds classic G-funk beats on the song “M.A.A.D City” and produces the song “Poetic Justice” in a way that sounds like ’90s rap group “Bone Thugs-N-Harmony” to add an authentic West Coast feel to the tracks.
Overall, this is a very good debut album, leaving high anticipation for what the collaboration of Lamar and Dr. Dre will do next. “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” contains explicit lyrics and violent themes that may not be suitable for all audiences. Key tracks include “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst” “Compton ” and “The Recipe,” both featuring Dr. Dre.