Album: good kid, m.A.A.d city
Producer: Sounwave, THC, Terrace Martin
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath, Interscope

Heavily inspired by Ice Cube's "A Bird in the Hand," Kendrick Lamar's "m.A.A.d. city" chronicles his descent into a drug-induced hysteria. He delivers his paranoid stress raps through a teenaged squeak, adding a heavy in-the-moment feel to his narrative.

Whether he's reminiscing on seeing "bodies on top of bodies" or threatening the gangbanger who murdered his cousin, Lamar and his guest, MC Eiht, vividly transport you to Compton as they have known and lived it.

Particularly gripping is the robot-like conclusion, which finds Lamar questioning the next generation's ability to escape the pain, crime, and, in his words, "the belly of the rough." -AM

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