WE live in a world where rhetorics of something being timeless and classic are made with haste. Where loving something is akin to ass kissing and disliking it is associated with hate.
I remember six years ago today, when Kendrick Lamar’s album Good Kid M.A.A.D City came out, a lot of noise was made about this being a classic. And for once, the noise and the adoration around an album was valid. After years of it being released, I still feel the same way about it as I did in 2012. Good Kid M.A.A.D City sits up there with Hip Hop’s deity.
Lamar had already proved his worth in the game, with masterpiece mixtapes and a debut album, Section.80, but Good Kid M.A.A.D City is the album in which his gospel spread throughout the world as it was his major label debut after having signed with Aftermath and Interscop earlier in 2012. “I couldn’t tell you what type of sound or where I will be in the next five years as far as music…Back to the neighbourhood and going back in that same space where we use to be, got me inspired. So this album won’t sound like Section.80.” He said this in an interview with XXL prior to the album’s release.
If Section.80 was a young man sketching out his manhood through spirituality, society and everything in between, then Good Kid M.A.A.D City was a man with a tight grip on who he is, having made peace with his childhood and the evils of his youth.
His story telling refreshed Hip Hop, at a time when rappers weren’t painting beautiful pictures through their narrative. We hadn’t seen a conceptual album from someone in the commercial space in a minute. On the same album, he had a 12 minute song, Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst. That was and still remains a novelty. It was like listening to a conscious rapper such as Common, yet gangsta as Ice Cube, who raps with the exuberance and skill set of a Pharaohe Monch.
In the hype and height of promoting their new albums, most musicians will insist on how the project will be appreciated by various people, as a show of its diversity. But very few deliver on that promise. Good Kid M.A.A.D City was satisfying for the lyricist, rhyme scheme obsessed fan; enjoyable to someone who likes sing-alongs and catchy hooks and the production was neat and had sufficient bounce for a club. Money Trees with Jay Rock, Swimming Pools and Backstreet Freestyle are perfect examples.
This is the one and only Kendrick album that saw him work with Canadian superstar Drake, in Poetic Justice. The two complement each other pretty well, it’s a pity they never collaborated again because of subliminal shots they started serving each other on tracks, after Kendrick’s verse on Big Sean’s Control.
According to Acclaimed Music, a site which aggregates a number of critics’ lists from all over the world into all-time rankings, Good Kid M.A.A.D City was the most acclaimed album of 2012, the third most acclaimed of the 2010s and the 141st most acclaimed of all time.
The album earned five nominations at the 56th Grammy Awards but surprisingly and controversially Kendrick left empty handed, with Best Rap Album going to Macklemore-a result that caused revolt from fans who believed Kendrick was snubbed.
Accompanying the music, were hilarious skits on this album. Whether it was his mother leaving him voicemails on his phone, asking for the car simultaneously arguing with Kendrick’s dad about his fixation to dominos or conversations with friends after breaking into someone’s home.
Kendrick is a great artist who is very observant. In his last album DAMN, he had a track titled Duckworth, which tells the story of the connection between his father and his boss, Top Dawg that stretches far back as his childhood. That he never added that story to Good Kid M.A.A.D City says a lot about the reverence he has for his creative process. He’s a special artist of our time that’s way ahead of his time.
There is a high probability that there is no such thing as heaven, but if such a fairy-tale does exist, King Push ain’t going into that snooze fest. With Daytona (his third solo studio album) he has convinced thousands of impressionable minds to hit the corner and start slinging that crack. I have been fighting the very same urge for the past couple of days and I think I might give in if I keep listening to Pusha’s latest project but…it’s just so good…I can’t stop…I won’t stop…I don’t even know how to stop.
The traitor, that is Kanye West, produced this album and he killed it. If Floyd Mayweather was a fan of the legendary Wu-Tang clan and had twenty years of experience in producing music, these would be the beats that he makes. Nasty and luxurious.
King Push exploits the traitor’s return to form by delivering the most vicious and hard hitting bars of his entire career, while predictably dispensing advice on how to make it and survive in the crack game. “…Can’t escape the scale, if I tried, inter-state traffic is alive…Push…” he candidly admits on the song Come Back Baby, while bragging “bitch I been bad…we buy big boats…bitch I’m Sinbad…down right sinful…” the man has no remorse. On the second track, The Games We Play, he opens up with the lines “drug dealer Benz’s with goldiggers in them…and elevator condors on everything I love…”
Throughout the album Pusha drifts between material access and the complexities of criminality but on the last track in the album, Infrared, he is committing mass homicide. His victim being the YMCMB record label. First claiming “…believe in myself…and the Coles and Kendricks…let the sock puppets play in their rows and the gimmicks…” because he is “…posed to juggle these flows and nose candies…” Then he goes after Wayne “…he sees what I see when Wayne on tour…flash without the fire…another multi-platinum rapper trapped and can’t retire…see the cracks, niggers exposed and I am the liar…” Pusha is merciless with his onslaught, asking Drizzy Drake Rogers “how could you ever write these wrongs…when you don’t even write your songs…” I’m seriously considering writing a thousand page theses on Pusha’s bars in this project.
This project is a masterpiece for all the hard-core, old school, rap heads in the world. With seven songs it does not overstay its welcome, which will become the new trend from now on considering how influential the traitor is.
My only gripe with this project is stated beautifully in the title of the intro track If you know, you know. If you have no idea about the lifestyle a drug dealer lives and the language he uses, you might not get the appeal of this project. In fact, chances are you have never listened to a Pusha T project, he never compromises with his content, pushing that weight baby… pushing that weight.