Kendrick Lamar – “The Art of Peer Pressure”

Of course I had to put down a few words about this one.

Now, to be quite honest, I’m not going to go into Compton native Kendrick Lamar‘s bio too much, there’s  plenty about him all over the blogosphere, but, for the completely uninitiated, here’s my less-than-30-words-summary: California rapper hailed as the next big thing due to his impressive lyricism, strong storytelling skills, and a penchant for deep introspection and social commentary…ya bish.

I’ve been following Kendrick since his 2009 mixtape, The Kendrick Lamar EP, and the rapper formerly known as K-Dot is most definitely talented. While I’m not a complete and total stan over the dude–I still think that for every great track or lyric he has, there’s one which is pretty clunky–I must admit that overall, he’s pretty damned good at what he does. If you’ve been following music news lately awake you’ve probably heard about his latest release, good kid, mAAd city, which has been winning hearts and minds everywhere and is already being hailed as a classic. The album, a concept record recalling Kendrick’s coming of age on the streets of Compton, is an ambitious and at times, downright brilliant listen. It’s simply going places and presenting elements that very few albums, hip-hop or otherwise, are doing in 2012.

Case in point, “The Art of Peer Pressure.”

An idea that Kendrick keeps returning to is one of a “lost generation,” which he had touched on in previous records, like last year’s “ADHD.” These are young adults falling into a life of drugs, alcohol, living day-to-day and not giving a fuck about much else. We’re not talking about ghetto kids, but people who are simply lost, disconnected from it all,  and dealing with inner angst. “The Art of Peer Pressure” channels the same vibe, presenting a younger Kendrick, a good kid, falling under the sway of hoodrat friends and joining in on their excursions. Young and dumb, but hey, we’ve all been there. The beat, once it really gets going,  is low and subversive as the crew and Kendrick go on a day out, doing everything from hollering at girls to robbery. Kendrick doesn’t glamorize or demonize this tale, the protagonist simply and easily slips into it, and the activities of the day and his nonchalant attitude on the matter weighs on you. You want to snap some sense into him, but you can’t. You can only hope that he makes it out alive.  It’s a harrowing listen.


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