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Album Review | HIP-HOP

Kendrick Lamar, ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’

The cover of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’

The Compton MC’s long-awaited major label debut is a breakthrough, as he both resurrects and reinvents West Coast hip-hop. Instead of fantasies of stacks and strippers, Lamar spins tales of everyday life with telling details. Over diverse beats he captures the heat of the street and the inner lives of people trying to survive these trying times. He’s preoccupied with money and power, but he recognizes that they come with responsibilities. He leaves the nihilism of classic West Coast hip-hop behind but retains much of its impact and contradictions (“m.A.A.d city”). This is very much an LA record, as “The Art of Peer Pressure” evokes the sights and feel of the city while Jay Rock, Dr. Dre (Lamar’s mentor), and veteran MC Eiht all make contributions. Lamar displays empathy as well as a sense of humor (“Backseat Freestyle”). The centerpiece is the 12-minute meditation on mortality and legacy, “Sing About Me/I’m Dying of Thirst,” which transcends mainstream hip-hop. A triumph. (Out now) KEN CAPOBIANCO

ESSENTIAL “Sing About Me/I’m Dying of Thirst”