Who influenced Kendrick Lamar
Hip-hop for the big screen
"Mom, I'm leaving, I'll be back in 15 minutes."
Kendrick Lamar only wants to borrow his mother's car for 15 minutes. This turns into a long day with the boys: killing time, chatting to girls, drugs, alcohol, trouble. Always with you via the mailbox: the mother who wants her car back and who is worried about her half-strength son. On the sofa next to it: the father who sings about his wife's buttocks and pokes on the phone.
Welcome to the life of Kendrick Lamar, the self-proclaimed good boy in a mad city. More precisely Compton, one of the southern suburbs of Los Angeles, which in rap has long been a symbol of the social problems of the American lower class. "good kid, m.A.A.d city" is a musical radio play about the odyssey of a couple of pubescent would-be gangsters. That starts with songs about fast sex and even faster money. With stories about gangs, peer pressure and teenage megalomania. Told in scattered details that come together in the course of the album to form a sleazy whole. And complemented by short, episodic scenes that appear all over the record. Called "Skits" in Hip Hop and for Lamar the alternative to convey a certain mood:
"Sometimes you can say more in a scene than in a rap. For example through an emotional outburst or in a conversation. You understand the record better. If you close your eyes and listen to the record, then I wanted you to actually listen to a film . "
Up until a few years ago, skits were found on every third rap album, even if they were often quite arbitrary. Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city" is the first artistically important and commercially successful hip hop record in ages on which these short scenes specifically support the central theme. For example, when the boys are caught breaking in and calling their mother while they are fleeing from the police.
"I wanted my friends to tell our story. I'm always there in these scenes, but I don't talk. You almost only hear the others. I'm passive, in the scenes I'm influenced by all the madness around us. But also from my parents. They were also in the studio and reenacted how they experienced it when I was 17. It's crazy that they did that. "
A constant theme: the ubiquitous violence that the boys are constantly confronted with, and that they themselves also practice. Until, at the height of the odyssey, one of the friends is murdered in a shootout. The influence of weapons on everyday American life shimmers through everywhere on "good kid, m.A.A.d city": their power, their attraction, but also the consequences. Kendrick Lamar doesn't think that will ever change in the US:
"Restricting arms is now being discussed, but I don't think that's really going to happen. People want to defend themselves. But we are only reaping what we have sown. America is defined by arms, money, and power. Arms are just a kind of side effect our society. We rappers only talk about what we see and at least I'm trying to draw some kind of positive lesson from it. "
On "good kid, m.A.A.d city", this teaching comes in the form of an old lady. When the boys want to avenge their dead buddy with guns in hand, she gives them a good head wash. Your solution: Belief in God and asking for forgiveness.
"I'm not a very religious person. But I'm a spiritual guy, I believe in God and the Holy Spirit and Jesus. A friend's grandmother plays the old woman. She's also very religious in real life. She always told us: Also, stay out of all the trouble. Rather believe in something or someone. "
Here the record becomes a classic story: a young man finds out under adverse circumstances how he can survive the conflicts around him. There won't be a prize for the most original script for that. The story is not new, but it is not told in black and white. Everyone can change. Even the father who asks Kendrick not to become like himself after the murder.
"good kid, m.A.A.d city" wants to be a fragmented and contradicting record. Every beat fits the mood of the moment. Like any attitude, be it cold ignorance or reflective reappraisal. Each of the twelve songs is in the right place in the story. Sometimes more and sometimes less they all glorify their deeds to a certain extent and at the same time calculate a bit with them. As a photo series, they show the ups and downs of a good boy in an insane city. The subtitle of the album justifiably summarizes: "A short film by Kendrick Lamar."
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