In all of the hoopla surrounding Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ The Heist winning the Grammy for Best Rap Album over Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, one important detail went un-discussed: the former is a collection of singles and potential radio records, whereas the latter is much more ambitious. Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City plays like an in-depth character study, following Kendrick through his life in Compton; The Heist, despite its provocative title, feels like a random assortment of tracks with an emphasis on positivity.
Kendrick Lamar’s album represents the kind of rap full-length that’s a rarity in today’s marketplace. Largely influenced by the hit-after-hit albums dropped by 50 Cent in the early 2000s, modern-day hip-hop releases can’t be bothered by conceptual narratives and underlying, unifying themes. It’s popular radio stations first, artistic risk-taking second, if not third or fourth.
Depending on who you’re talking to, this is either sad news or a non-issue. Around here? Records that operate more like motion pictures than FM playlists are always appreciated. A prime example: Prince Paul’s sprawling hip-hop epic A Prince Among Thieves, a story-driven album featuring in-character verses from Big Daddy Kane, Everlast, De La Soul, Xzibit, and more.
Today marks the disc's 15th anniversary, meaning there have now been 15 years through which its fans have hoped for a film adaptation. And also meaning it’s the perfect catalyst for our list of 7 rap concept albums that would make good movies.
Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)