Using Compton as a narrative backdrop is nothing new to hip-hop, yet Kendrick Lamar's 2012 major label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d. city brings it a sense of character and depth unlike anyway it's been portrayed before.
It tells the story of Lamar's smooth-talking experiences growing up in the crime-riddled neighborhood, through smooth downbeat production, tingling piano notes, hallucinatory hooks and frantic, yet low-key, tripped out rhythms. Like N.W.A., there is an obvious love for his hometown but like The Clash or Springsteen, he intelligently knows it's a terrible place to live as well. Lamar's lyrical delivery isn't interested in sucker punches or witty punchlines but yearns to tell a story that needs to be told and that's what gives it heart, as rockhard as it is.
4 short films out of 5