Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City

Music review by
Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media
Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City Music Poster Image
Popular with kids
Poignant hip-hop is profound and inspirational but graphic.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 12 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Lamar contemplates the value of troubling aspects of the neighborhood and world he was born into, including gang violence, drug use, prostitution, peer pressure, and revenge. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Through self-love, devotion, and focus, Lamar shows it's possible to overcome adversity and achieve one's dreams. His ability to battle his demons and remain a "good kid" in a city like Compton is inspiring and admirable.   


In his vivid storytelling of life in South Los Angeles, Lamar describes gang wars, revenge killings, and the misleading sense of security that comes with carrying a gun. However, by illustrating the criminal mindset of people he grew up with, Lamar is able to point to the flaws of destructive lifestyles. 


Although the lyrics generally stay away from sexual content, some of the characters Lamar embodies are more lewd than others. For instance, in the tongue-in-cheek "Backseat Freestyle," the hook includes the line "I pray my d--k get big as the Eiffel Tower / So I can f--k the world for seventy-two hours." 


In the tradition of other classic West Coast hip-hop albums, the record is filled with curse words such as "f--k," the "N" word, "bitch," and "p---y," but it's used more as a texture of the vocabulary rather than as aggressive or offensive swearing.


Lamar doesn't fall into the archetypal hip-hop pitfall of rapping about luxury and jewelry, instead focusing on the struggles of real people. There is some slight glorification of hustling, but in the context of the story, it makes sense.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Quite a few of the tracks reference drug and alcohol use, but the overall message of the record is that substance abuse is a dangerous and negative pursuit. Songs such as "Swimming Pools (Drank)" and "Sing About Me, I'm Dying" offer powerful examples of how intoxication ruins lives.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Compton-raised Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City  is a powerful and important reinterpretation of West Coast "gangsta" rap culture, using vibrant narrative structure in the form of hip-hop music to tell the story of his South Central. Although parents may be wary of the explicit language (including "f--k" and the "N" word), violence, sexuality, drugs, and mature themes, the overall message is positive and inspiring.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygrizmaster1981 February 2, 2014

If you were to allow your kids to buy ONE Parental Advisory CD.

Should this be another explicit CD you should break down and allow your kids to buy? I'll have to give this a listen. Maybe do a duel versus Chingy and o... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 20, 2014

Deep. yes, there is swears but it just makes it more powerful. And shows people what poverty is like.

i like this album because it is basicly about the artist has gone through as a child and that tells people that we should try and put a stop to gang violence an... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bySalsander March 14, 2014

Don't Confuse this for Another Generic (c)rap Album

For some background, I honestly hate rap. I am usually critical of most rap albums today seeming to revolve around boasting, money, misogyny, drugs, and the lik... Continue reading

What's the story?

GOOD KID, M.A.A.D. CITY is the second studio album and major-label debut of South Los Angeles-based rapper Kendrick Lamar. Executive-produced by the legendary Dr. Dre, GKMC has been hailed as the return of the West Coast in the hip-hop mainstream, and Lamar has become the genre's shining star.

Is it any good?

Kendrick Lamar is such a brilliant and intricate rapper that it takes a few listens to really hear what he's saying, but once you do, you realize that this is a man with a powerful perspective and an important message. The lyrics are clever and thoughtful throughout the record, the production is deep and haunting, and the imagery is vivid and palpable. The songs flow together perfectly, making the album a coherent masterpiece, a testament to the power of hip-hop to tell a true story. For mature teens and adults, there is plenty to consider and discuss.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how hip-hop and the media in general have influenced public perceptions of economically downtrodden urban areas. Do you think the sensationalistic focus on crime, violence, and drug use contributes to the continued degradation of low-income communities?

  • Do you think the fact that Lamar switches between apparently endorsing substance use and vehemently critiquing it sends a contradictory message?

  • It's been 25 years since the release of N.W.A.'s classic Straight Outta Compton. How do Lamar's depictions of Compton compare and contrast with those of fellow South L.A. luminaries Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E? 

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