The leak of Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” last week made waves throughout Twitter. The album was high on many fans’ most anticipated list and was released this past Monday, October 22nd. Album releases follow a familiar pattern of getting leaked a couple weeks beforehand, being the topic of discussion in social media circles immediately after, then largely forgotten about on release date. Many have noted that an album leak surpasses the release date in terms of a communal experience. But this wasn’t just any leak or release – this is Kendrick Lamar, savior of hip hop.
Lamar came to prominence in summer of 2011 with the release of his mixtape “Section 80”. The album displayed a combination of lyricism, topicality, and attitude that seemed to come out of nowhere. The album was reminiscent of the 90s California hip hop sound many were nostalgic for. The song “ADHD” below shows Lamar’s ability to be interesting, entertaining, yet create a meaningful metaphor at the same time:
The other aspect of Lamar was what he represented – a first person account of someone who grew up in the middle of post-Rodney King riot Los Angeles. It’s from this perspective that Lamar released his “GKMD” debut. The release is a concept album of growing up in Compton in the aftermath of the time period, balancing growing up, his immediate environments, and becoming a musician. In short, this album is about Lamar becoming a man. Lamar is joined by Drake, producer of the moment Hit Boy, Top Dog Entertainment (TDE) cohort Jay Rock, Compton rapper MC Eiht, and mentor Dr. Dre for the album. Lamar specifically wanted to keep the production in house to maintain the sound from “Section 80”. The first single, “Swimming Pools”, was released in early August:
Rarely has a release received so much praise from fellow peers. Lupe Fiasco compared the album to Radiohead. Pharrell Williams likened Lamar to Bob Dylan. There are two big questions surrounding the release of the album. First is whether Lamar can translate this acclaim into record sales. Second is whether the response to “good kid, m.a.a.d. city” is another example of a lack of perspective in the immediacy of social media, or if it truly is a once in a generation debut.