Joe DeBonis – University College
Good albums make someone feel something: happiness, joy, delight, or anything positive. Good albums are remembered for a time but are eventually forgotten in the flow of life. But a classic does so much more than that. It forms feelings so deep that one note will be able to create an explosion of emotions deeper than most feelings ever felt throughout this lifetime. Classic albums represent a generation, a way of thinking and a way of being. Classic albums mean more to the public than to the artist, the critics, or to the record label. A classic album is only truly created when the public is able to take that album and learn it, accept it and love it more than anything else in a year.
In my opinion, there is no such thing as over hype. If an album can create enough hype and passion in a populace to not only connect a broad range of people, but to have that broad range of people able to sing along to every song and love it with every fiber of their being, then the job of the album has been done. There are very few albums I feel comfortable playing in any social setting. There are very few artists that have their lyrics sang in every corner of society. With “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” though, there is not a place on this planet I would not feel comfortable playing that album. I cannot count the times I have heard people this year whispering the words “ya bish” to themselves when they think no one is listening. I can’t count the times that I have heard “Halle Berry, or hallelujah” sang softly under breaths.
Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” did all of that and more. It brought together a splintering music society under the umbrella of the best story told all year. The story of a young Lamar struggling through his teenage years in Compton and the trials and tribulations he faced is something that maybe not everyone has experienced in life. However, it is emotional enough to where people can connect with different parts of his story. Being peer pressured to do something that you didn’t want to, being in love with a girl your parents didn’t approve of, ignoring your parents as you did something foolish; the list goes on of things young K Dot did that almost every normal teen did too. It’s an album that can make people reflect on their younger years and realize, maybe they did not have as bad a time as they thought.
That’s not all though. Lamar is a true storyteller. A true storyteller can make anyone feel like they are in their shoes, not just make the listener connect with the message. Every time I listen to “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” I can picture that car, swerving away from the house they rob. I can feel the panic that those young men must have felt and when they escape, the feeling of relief that washed over them washes over me as well. When Lamar’s dad tells him “Any n**** can kill a man, that don’t make you a real n****. Real is responsibility, real is taking care of your mother******* family, real is God, n****” it’s like a sack of bricks being dropped in my gut.
Throughout the whole album, Lamar’s dad didn’t do much but add comic relief. But when he said that, it made what he said that much more meaningful coming from him. He essentially stopped Lamar from killing a man. On an album so full of emotion, this is the most emotional part by far. It’s powerful stuff to have a man I have never met, able to make me feel such emotions. Not many artists can do that, only the true classics do.
All of that aside, there are very few albums that give me goose bumps when I hear them come on. Very few albums make me shudder with anticipation as I wait for my favorite lines of the album. The beginning of “Backseat Freestyle” just makes me want to burst out of my skin with anticipation as I start to jump and dance and move every part of my body. Singing “m.A.A.d. city” with a crowd full of people when I saw Lamar in December was one of the best moments of my life and you know the best part of the song? I know you do (it goes a little something like this, “YOU KILLED MY COUSIN BACK IN ’94, F*** YO TRUCE”). Singing that with a crowd of people made me realize for the first time how many people truly love Kendrick Lamar. It made me realize how many people he has truly touched this year. That was the moment I knew “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” was going to be a classic. The concert was full of the most diverse people I have ever been to a concert with. There were white people, black people, Mexicans and Native Americans. Poor people and rich people. Men and women. Never have I seen a group of people so different come together so well. It was one of the most powerful moments of the year and only a classic album can do that.
I had kind of a tough time putting my thoughts about this album on paper. It’s that special of an album. The meaning and the emotion are almost too powerful to comprehend. However, every time I came back to it, I realized why I like this album so much. It’s because the people have accepted Kendrick Lamar as someone worth playing on the radio, someone worth listening to and someone worth looking up to. I am proud to know that my generation is willing to take a leap of faith for a kid from Compton and allowing him to tell his story and bring a populace back together. I don’t care if you hate rap or not, Kendrick Lamar’s message can speak to you and that’s why it’s the album of the year.