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Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid M.A.A.D City

The hip-hop world is a strangely feudal one. The kings of the game anoint their own protégés and seem to fire them into the spotlight. From then on, it’s up to them as to whether they sink (The Game or Lupe Fiasco, anyone?) or in the case of those such as Eminem or Kanye West, swim.

The latest cab off the rap rank it seems is 25 year old Comptonite Kendrick Lamar, who has amazingly been mixing with the likes of Dr Dre and Lil Wayne since the tender age of 17. Lamar released a debut album in 2011, however it was the following year, when the Dre-mixed Good Kid, MAAD City was released that it appeared it was his time to shine.

On the face of it, this differs little from the standard west-coast blueprint. Subjects focus on how much money they can make and so on, but it seems to be done with so much more conviction and talent than many in what can be a distinctly generic genre, no more so than on the outstanding Backseat Freestyle. The other focus of the album though is Kendrick’s childhood, with cautionary tales of many of the ill behavior of his youth. Tracks such as The Art of Peer Pressure swing from soul beginnings into dark rap territory, while Swimming Pools also sparkles.

He may not yet be ready to challenge Jay-Z for his crown, but the young pretender of hip-hop has laid down a strong opening statement.

by Harry Harland