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

Common Sense Media says

Poignant hip-hop is profound and inspirational but graphic.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.   

Violence

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. 

Sex

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." 

Language

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.

Consumerism

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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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? 

Music details

Artist:Kendrick Lamar
Release date:October 22, 2012
Type:Album
Label:Interscope Records
Genre:Hip-hop
Parental advisory:Yes
Edited version available:Yes

This review of Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written bySalsander March 14, 2014
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

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 like. Lamar's Good Kid, Maad City is a poetic deviation from this tired trend of trash. On the surface, these songs can seem pretty racy, but with deeper analysis you will notice this album has many themes about peer-pressure, the sins of drinking, and violence surrounding one's world. As the title of the album describes, Good kid, Maad city is a narrative about a teen who means well but is struggling to cope with the dark city in which he lives in. Any unsuitable content like language, sexual references, and violence are used appropriately to convey his themes and to give the listener an understanding of the environment that encompasses him. Racial slang and references to violence are just a norm in Kendrick's cultural background of Compton. He doesn't condone it at all, infact he detests sins like violence, substance abuse, and obsessions with money in songs such as "The Art of Peer Pressure", "Swimming Pools", "Money Trees", and "Sing to me, I'm Dying of thirst" (look up the lyrics to see what I mean). That being said, there are quite a few moments of explicit (although never uncomfortable) content. Younger kids would not understand how it ties into Lamar's message, so I believe CSM has the correct age recommendation. I recommend listening to the whole because like Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", the album tells a story that must be listened to from start to finish. Anyone in High school who wants to listen for it's artistic value ought to be fine. (By the way, Kendrick Lamar was noted for being a Straight-A student in High School with no criminal history. His refusal to give in to the sinful world that surrounds makes him a great role model and makes the album even more empowering for those in tough situations.)
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Written byAnonymous February 22, 2014
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

Not for Kids & Should also not be for teens 21+ CD.

OK Kendrick Lamar is Bad Role Model and even the Message is not good. He put Gun Violence in his Music. Not good at all. His Sexual Message could be bad too. But he's a rapper right. They shouldn't listen too him. Language has the Offensive N-Words in his music. No, No, No stay away. ...and he also has the a load of F-Words in it. Drinking/Drugs/Smoking that he don't stay away from Alcohol which is in this song Swimming Pools (Drank). In the Beginning is a drunkly sound which is not at all good for any kids and/ or teens. This music is very bad. No kids shouldn't listen to his songs.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bymrbright February 9, 2014
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

A Hip Hop Classic

By this album, Kendrick Lamar has proven to the world that he is the most skilled lyricist/MC there is out there. Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City isn't your ordinary hip hop album. It tells a story, and is played out like as a film. Every song immerses you into the scenario that Kendrick is in. You can imagine every detail, everything that he is painfully experiencing in this album. This is because of the combo of his rapping voice and masterful production. The beats are phenomenal. The beats fit the lyrics perfectly, and sucks you in the action. Kendrick's lyrics are top notch, and his flow is flawless. The skits are surprisingly emotional and sometimes funny. Now, back to Kendrick's lyrics. His lyrics connect with you, expressing relatable world problems, for example, peer pressure. In The Art of Peer Pressure, he's hanging out with his homies, and he's doing all this messed up stuff, but he's only doing it because he's with his homies. Inside him he doesn't wanna do this. He is a good kid inside. Kendrick emphasizes this in the song. Now, I won't list any standout tracks or anything, because that will just make you listen to the songs that I listed. No. Doesn't work like that. You have to listen to the album as a whole. That is how the artist intended you to hear it. Don't listen to the singles by itself, just listen to the album as a whole. You will not regret it. Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City is a classic that will never be forgotten by the hip hop community. *PARENTAL REVIEW NOW BEGINS* This album is a hip hop album, so of course this will have loads of language in it, including many uses of the f word and n word. But Kendrick is a good role model, only if you don't listen to Backseat Freestyle, one of the catchiest songs on the album. However, in Backseat Freestyle, his character is performing for his homies to impress him. This is not who he is right now. This is expressing what he was when he was a teenager. Other than this, Kendrick is a good role model. There are also many Christian influences, which is always a good sign. I'm a Christian so I was very impressed with the prayers. They can pray better than me haha. (No disrespect towards other religions) Anyways, there is some gang violence in here, like shootouts. Kendrick gets beat up by two of Sherane's cousins. Also, the beat in the Sherane song is pretty haunting, and appears again in the end of Poetic Justice. This album is somewhat sexual. Kendrick is a normal horny teenager in the Sherane song, and he's imagining having s x with Sherane while on the way to her house. There are sexual lyrics scattered through the album, but nothing surprising coming from a hip hop album. Drinking is present in the single Swimming Pools (Drank). This song is not glorifying alcohol, but it leaves the decision to you if you wanna drink or not. I say 15 and up because they need to experience this album because it is such a masterpiece. Kendrick has hit a home run on this one.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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