Kendrick Duckworth is an oddly unassuming name when you hear it said out loud. A lot of people who go by a pseudonym have that sort of thing going on.
For example, the eccentric and amazing Cee Lo Green looks at his birth certificate and the name Thomas Callaway looks back at him. In much the same way P!nk was born Alecia Moore, Drake is Aubrey Graham, and Big K.R.I.T. is simply Justin Scott to his family. I'm even an example of that. For the past eight to ten years (I'm just guessing because I forget these things) I've been calling myself Lucius Black. But when all the facades fall I'm simply Luther Powell (Luthor after Lex Luthor to my mother).
I pointed out Kendrick Duckworth as being unassuming simply because the rapper behind that name is anything but. Kendrick Lamar as a rapper is probably in my top twenty these days. I saw him as one of XXL's Freshman Class and figured he was worth listening to.
So I did.
I have scarcely been disappointed since then. The song that first got me was "She Needs Me". It amazed me how much of a story he could put in three minutes of music. I could quote to some of my favorite lines such as: A confidante/A mediator/So sweet/Every flavor/Just a conversation with her/Doing you a favor/Look at her hips/I wanna be her pager. But I won't. In the interest of time I am going to talk about his debut studio album good kid, m.A.A.d city.
Saying that was anxious for Kendrick's debut album would be an understatement tantamount to calling 9/11 'a big deal'. By his own admission it's called a motion picture. Once you hear it you'd understand that statement completely. When I got it I went about the business of listening through as always. The hits kept coming.
"Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" was the first song that caught me. Moreover, it's probably my favorite of the bunch. The track is string heavy, violins playing throughout the audio invasion. The wording of the hook is probably the most interesting part to me. It's utterly amazing. What's the hook?
I am a sinner/Who's probably gonna sin again/Lord, forgive me/Lord, forgive me/Things I don't understand/Sometimes I need to be alone/Bitch, don't kill my vibe/Bitch, don't kill my vibe/I can feel your energy from two planets away/I got my drink, I got my music/I would share it/But today I'm yelling/Bitch, don't kill my vibe/Bitch, don't kill my vibe/Bitch, don't kill my vibe/Bitch, don't kill my vibe
This song is great simply based on what he's saying here. As near as I can tell it's a man saying that he's flawed and willing to be human. It also says that with that his 'vibe' shouldn't be killed by those around him. I feel we can all relate.
"Backstreet Freestyle" is verbal acrobatics in its purest form. I love the punchlines and the rhyming here. Everything about this track works for me, from the beat to the ending.
"Poetic Justice" caught me a bit unaware when I first heard it. My first thought when I read the title was something artistic and eloquent. It wasn't until I heard the Janet Jackson sample that I remembered about the movie she'd done with the late Tupac Shakur. The refrain and the basic rhythm of "Anytime" sets the mood for an amazing track by Kendrick Lamar and Drake.
Other than "Swimming Pools (Drank)" there are numerous tracks you should check out. "Compton" and "The Recipe" are personal favorites of mine, each featuring the uber talented Dr. Dre. It would also behoof you to listen to "Now Or Never" featuring Mary J. Blige.
In conclusion, Kendrick makes an amazing album. Good, really good if truth be told.
Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine
Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine