Deen wrote this while flipping switches and clocking all the riches.
Some of you might be aware of the fact that I don’t rate Kendrick Lamar as highly as many seem to. For the umpteenth time, I think he’s a talent, but y’all’s obsession/savior complex basically ruined the kid for me.
It’s fair to say that this album might be the most anticipated thing for rap nerds this year, so any opinionated fan worth his weight in bubbles has to listen to this. I did just that and here are my very fresh, initial impressions of a good ass album.
Oh and I would have invited Keef to assist again, but he’s high somewhere in LA wondering why God is speaking to him through old Keith Sweat songs. That’s no bueno, so you’ll have to settle for shitty old me. Again, these are just my initial impressions – you know, the things I thought right before Trap God dropped.
1. Sherane, aka, Master Splinter’s Daughter
I missed what the title had to do with the song, other than Sherane being the hoodrat that set Kendrick up for a lick, but the bassline is murder and it’s an interesting introduction to what promises to be an immersive experience. The real lesson from this song is that you can’t trust a bitch named “Sherane”, “Sharane” or “Stronjay”. O.C., Mic Geronimo AND Kendrick can’t ALL be wrong on this. Or better yet, don’t fuck with hoodrats.
2. Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe
I suspect we’re gonna hear a lot of variety with regards to song structure on this project. I approve greatly. I almost feel as if I can hear Erykah Badu doing backup vocals on this one. I’m almost definitely wrong. Kendrick’s still talking about feelings. Methinks. Sounwave with the rich tapestry and all that.
3. Backseat Freestyle
This leaked a few days prior to the album leak to less than enthused reviews. Guess what? I fucking loved it. Still do. Will continue to. I like the idea of a traditional freestyle making it on to a retail album and it helps that it sounds good. You can almost hear Kendrick smiling as he strings the vulgarities and non-sequiturs together with a variety of flows. As a side note, it’s safe to say Hit-Boy will be around for a while.
4. The Art of Peer Pressure
I think this leaked a good minute ago too. I ignored it though. The title pretty much sums it up. Kendrick just fills the details in admirably. The playful vibe from the last song is pretty much gone at this point. As I claimed back in my more mature days, i.e. 2005, Jeezy is a bad influence.
5. Money Trees (feat. Jay Rock)
Five songs in before the first guest. That’s impressive in 2012. Rappers gotta learn to carry their own shit. Sherane is back again. Dirty bitch. Allow me to observe that Kendrick’s hooks seem to be a lot stronger these days. Maybe he ran into J.Cole’s coach. The weird Badu sub voice is back too. Also, allow me to observe that in the rush to anoint Kendrick and the other 2 in TDE, Jay Rock has become sorely underrated. He’s good.
6. Poetic Justice (feat. Drake)
Kendrick really needs to give his mom’s minivan back. Poetic Justice? I imagine that Drake gets to reprise Janet Jackson’s role as Justice due to his high estrogen levels, while Kendrick plays Tupac’s Lucky. Oh wait, there’s a prominent (and kinda lazy) Janet sample instead. Nonetheless, Drake keeps up his streak of making his male duet partners sound like him: a bit bitch-made. This is inoffensive, even if I won’t listen to it ever again.
7. Good Kid
Pharrell’s here. Uncredited, but here nonetheless. This shit sounds like a NERD outtake and Kendrick’s talking about about the quagmire the neutrals often find themselves in when they’re caught in the wrong neighborhood. Pretty dramatic stuff, especially if you’ve somehow managed to avoid all those classic 90s west coast movies.
8. M.A.A.D. City (feat. MC Eiht)
I was hoping that this would sound a bit more west coasty, given Eiht’s presence, but this is more trap du jour sounding shit and Kendrick really leans into the whiny asthmatic flow. The drama and chaos ain’t ceasing either. Oh… hol’ up, hol’ up. Things get real 90s west coastish around the halfway mark. This shit goes hella hard homie. Eiht’s still on point. Okay, this will require more listens. Many more listens.
9. Swimming Pools (Drank) (Extended Version)
What the fuck is this lil’ non-drinking rapping ass nigga extending this shit for? Unless he intends to add a new verse with him rapping drunk like Game did on ‘Start from Scratch’, then color me uninterested. It still sounds like Kendrick biting Drake biting Kendrick, thanks to the T-Minus beat. This bitch Sherane should have been replaced with Lady GaGa.
10. Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst
What is this? A fucking Belle & Sebastian song? I guess one of Kendrick’s homies caught some lead. This shit is dense and I have to take a dump. I’ll have to circle back to this later because Kendrick is super stuck in his own head right now. Matter of fact, this song probably deserves its own overwrought think-piece. Probably from a more serious listener than me. Shit sounds pleasant though. Even if bitches can’t twerk to it. Definitely can’t twerk to a song that ends with a prayer to Jesus.
11. Real (feat. Anna Wise of Sonnymoon)
I guess Anna is the fake Badu that’s been haunting a nigga’s ears. This shit is kinda like the one depressing song he made about makeup or some shit on ‘Section 80’. Fuck it, i’mma say it: this shit is preachy as fuck. Doesn’t make it bad by any means though.
12. Compton (feat. Dr. Dre)
I think I’ve made my feelings about 2012 Dre clear. Even when Kendrick is ghostwriting for him, Dre manages to sneak in a headphone reference. SMH. Fuck that guy. I guess the song is decent and a more than able closer for this set of songs, but the beat kinda feels like budget Just Blaze (so Mark Henry, I guess?). Things don’t really pick up for me until the weird synths at the end.
13. The Recipe (feat. Dr. Dre)
It’s good. I guess. I was never as enamored with it as the rest of you were. Probably proof of my awfulness or something. Whatever.
14. Black Boy Fly
Aaron Afflalo envy rap. Cool story indeed. A trio stories about guys that made it outta Compton and how their success made young Kendrick feel. Interesting shit.
15. Now or Never (feat. Mary J. Blige)
We might have to put Mary out to pasture when it comes to rap appearances. Not that this or anything she’s done in awhile is bad, I just have zero interest in her saccharine ass hooks in 2012. They could have junked this shit. I bet it was Dre’s idea.
Bonus: Westside, Right On Time (feat. Young Jeezy)
I know this doesn’t belong here, but I added it anyway. This shit has the sense of humor that deserted Kendrick for most of the album proper with the exception of ‘Backseat Freestyle’. Oh and where the fuck is ‘Cartoons & Cereal’? Did Gunplay take it to jail with him? That shit is arguably better than anything on the album. Song of the year contender.
So there you have it. Whatever “it” is. I think I already drew several conclusions within the song by song reflections, so I’m going to pass on wrapping this up in a pretty bow. I’ll leave that to the proper reviews. And yeah, I completely understand the foolishness of this conceit – but I know that admission won’t stop y’all from raiding the comments, agreeing with me or calling my mom a ho on twitter. That’s cool. I’m ready.