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All posts for the month January, 2013

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

KendrickGKMC

Artist: Kendrick Lamar

Album: good kid, m.A.A.d. city

Release Date: 10/22/12

Rating: 4.5/5

Clever rhymes, retrospective, yet innovative beats and brutal honesty propel good kid, m.A.A.d. city, the sophomore effort from Compton-based rapper Kendrick Lamar, into pure hip-hop greatness.

Debuting at number 2 on the Billboard’s top 200 chart last October, due partly to the success of lead singles “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and “The Recipe” featuring Dr. Dre, the album struck a chord with a mass audience and made its way onto several year-end best-of lists in magazines and on the internet. Signing with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records, and with an array of highly talented well-known producers including Pharrell Williams, Just Blaze, T-minus and executive producer credits to the Doctor himself, it leaves little to speculate why this album was so well received.

Despite the impressive list of guests and producers, what makes this album so delightful is the impressive story telling ability in Lamar. Few rappers today think in terms of a complete album yet alone a concept album, which good kid, m.A.A.d. city most certainly is. The concept is that of Lamar’s life growing up on the tough streets of Compton. It examines joy, sorrow, success, failure, life, love, sex, drugs, family and faith, all while including dashes of humor along the way.

The album opens with “Sherane a.k.a. Master Splinter’s Daughter.” Grooving beats, catchy hooks and a hilarious skit consisting of a voicemail from Lamar’s parents populate the opening track. Sherane, a toxic former lover of Lamar’s, is a reocurring figure throughout the album. From there, sick beats and top-notch production continue to pilot Lamar’s beautiful story as he examines the highs and lows of peer-pressure and life growing up in Compton.

Tracks like “The Art of Peer Pressure” and “Poetic Justice” see Lamar facing his demons and giving an honest indication of walking the line between becoming a stereotype and rising above the temptation of peer pressure. The brutal honesty cannot be denied, especially where Lamar examines his faith in contrast to his lifestyle in “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” with the opening line, “I am a sinner, who’s probably gonna sin again, Lord forgive me, Lord forgive me.”

“Swimming Pools,” the album’s lead single, is well equipped with brilliant hooks and a feel-good party vibe. However, there is darkness to the lyrics, as Lamar confesses his struggles with drinking and partying and it preventing him from being where he feels he needs to be. Finally, the album concludes on the trio of darkly lyrical tracks, “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” “Real” and “Compton,” indicating a hopeful but broken Kendrick Lamar.

All in all, good kid, m.A.A.d. city could easy be one of the wittiest and lyrically innovative hip-hop albums of the last several years. Backed by some of the best producers the game has to offer, this is a story of triumph over adversity, that doesn’t require someone who’s only from Compton to grasp. It’s a very relatable tale of a young man  finding himself and defining himself, in a very honest and beautifully passionate manner. Not since Eminem’s prime or Kanye West’s early records has there been such a concise and honest story-telling hip-hop album.

March 1943 "Lithograph of Reptiles" by M.C. Escher

March 1943 “Lithograph of Reptiles” by M.C. Escher

The World Through the Eye of Escher

By Joel Anderson (Art and Poetry Editor)

You may not be familiar with his name, but you probably know his work. Whether it’s hanging in the waiting room of the optometrist’s office, or in a friend’s dorm room, or even in the art department on campus, Escher’s work is all around us.Escher was a Dutch graphic artist whose art dealt with perceptions in reality and geometric shapes. He mostly worked with lithographs and woodcuts.

It’s hard to believe the images he made were without the aid of a computer. There’s such a depth to his work, you’d think it was made within the last 20 years. And although Escher wasn’t a good student in school, his art work is closely associated with various mathematical concepts.

“By keenly confronting the enigmas that surround us and by considering and analyzing the observations that I have made, I ended up in the domain of mathematics. Although I am absolutely without training in the exact sciences, I often seem to have more in common with mathematicians than with my fellow artists,” said Escher.

One mathematical concept which keeps appearing in Escher’s work is the tessellations. A tessellation is a pattern of shapes with no overlaps or gaps. These appear in many of Escher’s works such as Metamorphosis III, Reptiles, Sky and Water and Development I.

Escher also explored spatial concepts as well, such as infinity and gravity. Many of his works challenges the viewer to explore the conventions of our world in a different context.

As Escher once said “Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling?” It’s this concept which Escher puts into his work. Especially when challenging the perceptions of architecture.