Kendrick Lamar’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ – the best album of the ’10s turns 10
Kendrick Lamar's game-changing good kid, m.A.A.d city came out 10 years ago today. Rap and music overall were never the same since, Kendrick's own career continued to progress at an astonishing rate, and this album has continued to be massively influential. So much about music and the world has changed in the decade since its release, but good kid, m.A.A.d city still feels impossibly fresh every time you listen. We named it the best album of the 2010s at the tail-end of 2019, and it still feels like that decade's clear winner. At the time, we wrote:
The onset of free internet rap mixtapes in the late 2000s and early 2010s threatened to overtake the stagnant rap mainstream of the time, and transformation was complete with the release of Kendrick Lamar's major label debut good kid, m.A.A.d city. It was an obvious classic upon arrival -- every hook weaved seamlessly into the song and drilled instantly into your brain, every musical arrangement was finessed to the point of perfection, every bar was delivered with exceptional skill, and every lyric left you hanging on Kendrick's every word as he told you his story of growing up in Compton. It had the narrative arc of Illmatic, the attention to musical detail of Aquemini, and the widespread impact and accessibility of The Eminem Show (which it very recently topped as longest-charting hip-hop studio album on the Billboard 200), and looking at it now, it's very obviously on the same level as all three of those albums. good kid, m.A.A.d city almost immediately changed the game for both rising and already-popular rappers. After it came out, it felt like almost everyone tried to up their game to compete with it. It united old school and new school, underground and mainstream, indie fans and rap fans. (Throughout the course of one cohesive album, good kid, m.A.A.d city worked in rising superstar Drake, ever-powerful producer/tastemaker Dr. Dre, underrated Compton vet MC Eiht, and a Beach House sample.) It remains stunning that Kendrick pulled this all off, but what's even more impressive is how effortless it is to listen to. Sometimes the "best" albums are high-brow to the point of difficulty, but good kid, m.A.A.d city is one of those rare all-time classic albums that's as musically innovative as it is culturally impactful as it is fun to listen to. good kid, m.A.A.d city wins this decade because it satisfies on every level. It defied almost every major musical trend and impacted almost all of them too. The only other rapper that could've taken this top spot would've been Kendrick himself with To Pimp A Butterfly, an album that's as near-perfect as good kid, m.A.A.d city in an entirely different way. You can -- and people will -- spend a lifetime debating these two albums. For us right now, nothing captured the complete essence of the decade like good kid, m.A.A.d city did.