30-odd years deep into the creation of the art form, I think we can accept some hard facts: No. 1, concept albums are not always fire. They're more likely to earn you credibility with the "tasteful" music snob, or the guy who won't admit to knowing any 2 Chainz bars. But that doesn't mean that they're going to be fun to listen to. Sometimes you don't need to hear skits in between every damn song. Sometimes you don't need an 8-minute "conceptual" track that would never in a million years get radio play, but that your homie tells you is dope just because it's fulfilling some abstract duty to the narrative. And sometimes, trying to tell some complicated story through a series of songs doesn't actually access some wellspring of deeper meaning. It's just a cheap way to show "depth." Where are the bangers?
Then, once in awhile, along comes a record that doesn't just salvage the "concept record," but executes the style so flawlessly (and without losing listenability), that you'll forget you ever complained about skits. Everything about good Kid, m.A.A.d. City, from the interludes with his (actual!) parents, to the elongated concept song "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst," feels like an essential part of the record. You don't have to think good Kid is flawless, even, to recognize how much life it pumped into an older formula. There are plenty of songs on the record that work when removed from the conceptual cage: "Money Trees," "Backseat Freestyle," "Swimming Pools."
Being ambitious is a risk for any artist. Nine times out of ten, going out on a limb is more likely to put you on your face than deliver. But on good Kid, Kendrick threaded the needle with ease.