Amidst all the nonsense happening around our melting pot of a country, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘good kid m.A.A.D. city’ will forever encapsulate the 21st century young black experience while expressing a cautionary tale to past and future generations of Americans in a country that is suffering from an identity crisis, a midlife crisis, and amnesia all at the same time.
You can’t fight against the machine. You can get active, and you can fight the power all you want, but your rage will fall on deaf ears until we reach a tipping and breaking and boiling point together. You will find yourself preaching to a choir of tiresome cliches that are as old as time. The system has been reinforced and tested and challenged, and with each obstacle overcome, it has gotten stronger and more careless and in many instances more aggressive. Optimism is dying and being replaced with oppression. Pressure-filled situations have subdued any thoughts of a revolution inside the American mindstate. And idealism has been institutionalized under the guise of insanity. Go figure. I’m just trying to listen to records, because I dig music. I am a golden god. And believe it or not, so are you. Fuck what you heard.
Which brings us to the idea elaborated on and presented by Kendrick Lamar throughout ‘good kid m.A.A.d city’: this country is as hypocritical as it is challenging, as opportunistic as it is science-fiction futuristic. One challenge presents itself in the form of finding ways to stand up for what you believe to be right in order to form a utopian society, even though that stance will most definitely be met with hostility and prejudice. Kendrick’s words are bigger than the industry he dominates. They are bigger than the beats they accompany. I’ve been listening to rap and hip hop for a long time. Many records have encompassed the same themes, but K. Dot’s masterpiece catapults them to the next level.
Opening with erroneous religious syntax and tales of teenage lust, followed by a demand to not be a buzzkill, and on and on, the record is one of vast and obvious substance. If you’re oblivious to the content though, the time has come to look beyond any preconceived notions of what hip hop is and realize the importance of the words being spoken. Realize the message.
The climax of the timeless record comes at about the 5:00 mark of track 8, the half-title track if you will, where Kendrick sets forth on delivering a manifesto in many ways on what his makeup has done for his life as a rapper, an artist, an influence, and then an angel (on angeldust, no less).
Anonymous erased the anonymity of the cop who shot and killed Mike Brown. It is up to us as Americans to put the pieces together and absolve the anomaly.
How long will we allow history to repeat itself? How many more good kids have to get wasted before we stand up and allow positive change to permeate permanently through our American fabric…
Being a writer grants you access to certain privileges the rest of the commonfolk can’t quite make themselves privy to. It allows you to follow multiple passions and write about them as a presumed expert on the subject. It allows you to passionately care about philosophy or science or literature and write about subjects for others to become passionate and/or aware of. Your daily subject of choice can range across the board, for the pen will always be mightier than the sword, and you can take that to the bank, put it in your pipe and smoke it, et al. The written word allows you to express opinions on what you care about while unapologetically announcing to the world your views and opinions in an intellectually stimulating way.
The written word allows you to care about world religion or Teddy Roosevelt and The Rough Riders or Jay-Z and Beyoncé or Orange is the New Black or the faulty American political infrastructure or Albert Pujols and Yasiel Puig. The written word allows you to shed whatever light you’d like on the Yasiel Bey/Mos Def/Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam situation(s). It allows you to (not) care about a college education while still accentuating your inner intellectual. It allows you to meander through the marriage (in)equalities that separate us even in the most uniting of experiences. It allows us to write about linguistic phenomena, such as the slash’s comeback into the art of conversation.
Hell, if you’re so inclined you can even write about those two white folks who created the app to help other white people steer clear of “sketchy” neighborhoods. I’m sure my good people have a thing or two to say about that, no?
And I’m just tryin’ to put it on ya,
Because I love you like Garfield does lasagna…