California emcee Kendrick Lamar recently released the cover art for his Aftermath Entertainment debut album Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City. After the overwhelming critical success of his 2011 independent LP, Section.80, Kendrick has the rap world on the edge of their seats in anticipation for his latest project. He decided to feed his hungry fans with a glimpse into the direction he may be going with the release of the visuals for the CD packaging.
The artwork for Good Kid is taken from an aged polaroid picture of a young Kendrick Lamar surrounded by 3 men whose eyes have been redacted. We can only assume K-dot’s intention was to “protect” the identity of these male role models or at least give the impression that their past actions may cause some of the alphabet boys to come ask questions.
Growing up in the city of Compton, Kendrick was surrounded by people who were a part of L.A. gang culture, and while he’s never personally claimed any sets, he has always addressed that lifestyle in his music. The purposely edited photo presents an interesting contrast between the feeling of looking at something that we’re not suppose to see and the obvious appearance of a loving moment. Throw in the fact that a baby’s bottle and a malt liquor bottle are both prominent in the photo and the contradiction is maginified. Showing two usually opposing concepts seems to be a favorite theme of Kendrick since Section.80’s artwork featured bullets and a bible.
Besides touching on his own childhood experiences and highlighting interesting conflictions, Kendrick also uses the Good Kid cover to pay homage to several classic hip hop albums from the 1990’s. Both Nas’s Illmatic (1994) and The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready To Die (1994) displayed now iconic pictures of young faces. Again, in a sneakily brilliant way, Kendrick is telling two stories at once. He’s looking back to the past, but at same time tapping into the recent trend of sharing Polaroid inspired pics made popular by the social media site Instagram.
After positive feedback for the singles “The Recipe” and “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and creating an intriguing cover image, Kendrick is on pace to have another standout project and possibly once again have one of the year’s best. (see Top Ten Albums of 2011) True artists are always conscious of every aspect of the art they present to the world. If Kendrick Lamar puts this much effort into his LP as he does the cover, it’s clear to understand why many hip hop heads are hopeful that Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City turns out to be a classic.
Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City is scheduled for release on October 22, 2012
To connect with Kendrick Lamar follow him @kendricklamar
Check out the video for “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and an interview with Kendrick Lamar: