good kid, m.A.A.d. influencesBy Skinny Friedman And Ray The Destroyer
Yes, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city is a very good album, maybe even classic. Maybe you were wondering if there are some other albums like it, or at least some other albums that have similar ideas or styles of rapping. Glad you asked! Peep game.
Ice Cube - Death Certificate
This is a good place to start because Kendrick’s “m.A.A.d. City” flips Cube’s “Bird In The Hand.” But where Kendrick starts in a bad situation that only gets worse, Cube narrates how financial necessity turns a high school graduate with career prospects into a drug dealer. Like the rest of Death, “Bird in the Hand” is uncompromising and plainly spoken hard truths, like when he points out that the government only cares that he’s dealing drugs because it means he’s not paying taxes.
good kid, m.A.A.d. city is about a black kid trying to keep his head down and survive youth in a city where everyone seems out to get him. In contrast, Ice Cube spends Death Certificate fighting back against the dangers of being a young black man in America in 1991. He takes shots at everyone and everything: not only at Whitey, but also at Koreans (“Black Korea”), Jews and N.W.A. (“No Vaseline”), women (“Givin' Up The Nappy Dugout”), the military (“I Wanna Kill Sam”), hospitals (“Alive On Arrival”) and even his own peers (“Us”).
It’s up to interpretation whether the two decades between these two albums mellowed the tensions or crushed a generation’s rebellious spirit.
MURS - The End of the Beginning
There are some answers on MURS’ “The Night Before…” from his 2003 album on Def Jux. Cases of mistaken identification can lead to gun battles and the cops are basically just out banging their set like everyone other gang in the area. In the third verse, MURS rides out to retaliate after someone takes some shots at his non-affiliated best friend. (The ensuing gun battle is comically ineffective.)
The End is a little more mature than good kid, with its musings on financial responsibility (“BT$”), fools who will not give you your space (“Please Leave”) and the unglamorous grind, rap or otherwise (“God’s Work”). And the pill poppin' is for anxiety, not for fun (“Happy Pillz”). But I’m sure Kendrick can get down with the Humpty Hump-assisted “Risky Business,” the intense rap tour-de-force “Def Cover” (inspired by “Deep Cover”) and the skateboarding anthem “Transitionz Az A Ridah.”
cLOUDDEAD - cLOUDDEAD
While it’s tempting to connect the weirder moments of m.A.A.d City (i.e., the helium-laced vocals that open “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”) to late era Outkast, it’s more likely the influence of early–90’s LA pioneers Freestyle Fellowship and their crew Project Blowed. But in 2001, the Bay Area trio cLOUDDEAD were doing even weirder shit that might’ve caught Kendrick’s ear as well.
The self-titled album from the experimental group is full of abstract verses and sprawling songs that weave in and out of focus, taking the hallucinatory haze of songs like “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and “County Building Blues” and blowing them out exponentially. Rappers Doseone and Why? fully realize the high pitch and melodies that Kendrick slips into occasionally, as well as adopting the same post-Bone Thugz flow. cLOUDDEAD is the m.A.A.d City on whipits.
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