Interpretation of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City Story
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City: A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar (present Kendrick)
K.Dot (young Kendrick)
Demetrius (Sherane’s favourite cousin)
The Two Brothers (Sherane’s younger brothers)
Granny (Sherane’s Granny who she lives with)
Sherane’s Mother (a crack addict)
Uncle Tony (Kendrick’s Uncle who was killed)
Joey (either childhood friend of Kendrick or cousin)
L, Boog, Yaya, Lucky (friends/family members of Kendrick when he was 9)
Unknown Woman (who gets the boys to pray)
Sherane aka Master Splinter’s Daughter
The story opens as a flash-forward. K.Dot has known Sherane for a number of months by this point. He met her at a party where they flirted and exchanged numbers. They kept in contact with each other over the summer and got to know each other pretty well, he talks about her family’s history of gang-banging that made him wary but didn’t stop him from hooking up with her.
At the end of this song K.Dot is driving to Sherane’s house in his Mother’s van, he has sex on the brain. But when he turns up Sherane is outside waiting with two dudes in black hoodies (possibly her two younger brothers, or her cousins, one of which could be Demetrius).
Skit #1 - as K.Dot pulls up at Sherane’s house his Mother tries to call him but instead gets his voice-mail. We learn from his Mother that K.Dot said he was borrowing her van for just 15 minutes. She warns him not to mess with “them hoodrats” especially “Sherane”.
****, Don’t Kill My Vibe
The content of this song doesn’t actually follow the Sherane narrative. It is a song told from the perspective of Kendrick Lamar the rapper and how as he gradually gets more recognition as an artist he sees people around him changing, “I can feel the new people around me just want to be famous.” He also talks about trying to maintain his credibility while becoming a more mainstream artist, “I’m trying to keep it alive and not compromise the feeling we love/You trying to keep it deprived and only co-sign what radio does.”
Skit #2 – The narrative begins. K.Dot’s homies pick him up in their white Toyota with a pack of blacks and a beat CD.
The most self-explanatory song on the album. Young K.Dot cruising around town with his homies, getting high and dropping freestyles in the backseat. This is a life is good moment, living free, no troubles. The calm before the storm.
The Art of Peer Pressure
The narrative begins to build. The pressures of hanging with the homies becomes more than simply having a laugh and freestyling. The usually drug free and sober K.Dot is brought in to a world of drinking, smoking, and violence when with “the homies”. Cruising around in a white Toyota, hitting up girls, jumping dudes wearing rival colours, and bragging about what they just did.
The stakes are upped when K.Dot and his homies rob a house that they had been stalking for two months. Cops pursue them but lose them.
Skit #3 - K.Dot is “faded” because he “hit the wrong blunt”, this a true story of young Kendrick hitting a blunt laced with angel dust. The homies talk about dropping K.Dot off back at home, so he can take his Mother’s van and go hit up Sherane – and then they can all meet back up later on the block.
K.Dot recaps the story so far. He talks about robbing the house, “Home invasion was persuasive/From 9 to 5 I know its vacant.”
He mentions ****ing Sherane and bragging about it to his homies, “I ****ed Sherane then went to tell my bros.”
He references Backseat Freestyle when he talks about rhyming to beats, “Parked the car and then we started rhyming, ya bish/The only thing we had to free our mind.”
And he talks about jumping dudes who looked like they had more money than them, “Then freeze that verse when we see dollar signs/You looking like an easy come up ya bish/A silver spoon I know you come from ya bish.”
The line in the chorus “Everybody gon’ respect the shooter/But the one in front of the gun lives forever.” is deeply important, not just as a life motto, but in regards to the events that later take place in this story regarding Dave and his brother. It’s also a reference to Kendrick’s Uncle Tony, who was shot and killed at Louie’s Burgers; this event is a snap back to reality from the “dreams of living life like rappers do.”
Skit #4– K.Dot’s Mother leaves another voice-mail. She wants her car back.
K.Dot has been dropped off back at home by his homies and is about to go see Sherane. He’s probably driving on the way there in his Mother’s van. He talks about her and their relationship so far - it appears they may have had some arguments; he talks about her meeting up with her girlfriends to curse him, and going out partying rather than talking with him.
Skit #5 – this is when we catch up with Sherane aka Master Splinter’s Daughter. It starts where Sherane ended, and you can tell because that haunting female vocal (used in the beat to Sherane) comes back in this skit. The two dudes with Sherane approach K.Dot and ask him where he and his family are from (trying to work out what gang he is affiliated with). They force K.Dot out of the van and jump him.
This really sets off the theme of the second half of the album and it is all to do with - realisation.
K.Dot talks about getting jumped, “For the record I recognize that I’m easy prey/I got ate alive yesterday.”
He discusses the negative effects of gang-culture, and being unable to escape the pressure of people wanting to know what gang he represents, “But what am I supposed to do/When the topic is red or blue/And you understand that I ain’t/But know I’m accustomed to.” Red or Blue obviously refers to the LA gangs of Bloods and Crips.
The red and the blue in the second verse become police sirens. K.Dot talks about getting no sympathy from the cops because they stereotype him as a gang-banger, making him lift up his shirt in order to look for a gang affiliated tattoo, “I heard them chatter: “He’s probably young but I know that he’s down”/Step on his neck as hard as your bullet proof vest.”
K.Dot is trapped in a violent culture and can’t get a reprieve from the gangs or the police.
More self-awareness and realisation of the corrupt city that K.Dot lives in.
K.Dot’s recent beat-down brings back early memories of similar situations, witnessing someone with their brains blown out at a burger stand back when he was 9 (I’m not sure if he is talking about his Uncle Tony again, or someone else), he thinks he knows the person who did it but he censors his name. He also talks about how his cousin was killed back in 94.
He talks about his Father telling him to get a job but he got fired after his friends pressured him in to staging a robbery.
In the final verse he tries to let the good shine through and offer respite for the youth and how they don’t have to succumb to the temptations and pressures of the street. He hopes that his experience and intelligence can do good for the youth living in similar situations. “Compton, USA Made me an Angel on Angel Dust.”
Skit #6 – K.Dot’s homies meet back up with him later as planned. They try to boost him back up after his beat-down, and they offer him alcohol to take his mind off it.
An anti-alcohol song that again plays in to the second half of the album’s realisation about the vices previously holding Kendrick back. Kendrick talks about growing up around alcohol both within his family and group of friends.
Skit #7 – this is the big impact moment of the narrative. The plan is to take revenge on the dudes that jumped K.Dot. One of K.Dot’s homies (possibly Dave) talks about maybe dropping K.Dot back off at home, but this idea is turned down, and K.Dot stays. The homies see the dudes that jumped K.Dot and a shoot-out begins. During the battle K.Dot’s friend Dave gets shot. The dudes that shot Dave drive off and K.Dot is left holding Dave as he dies in his arms.
Sing About Me
Verse 1 – from the perspective of Dave’s brother. He says the blood is on Kendrick’s hands because the whole situation happened out of revenge for something that happened to Kendrick. But he says he appreciates that Kendrick was there for his brother and held him while he was dying. Dave’s brother wonders if he will ever discover a passion like Kendrick to get him out of the hood – he says he hopes Kendrick will remember him and sing about him when he makes it big, and if he dies before the album drops…pop, pop, pop – he gets killed.
Verse 2 – from the perspective of Keisha’s sister. She is mad at Kendrick for putting her sister on blast (on Section 80) without even knowing her properly. She talks about how she is living the same life as her sister, as a prostitute, and is proud of her living and what she does. She claims not to be just another woman lost in the system. She says her sister died in vein. Unlike Dave’s brother she doesn’t want to be sang about on the album. She feels great and says she’ll never fade away….but then she does, her vocals slowly fade out in to obscurity…perhaps she died or just became another nameless “hoodrat”.
Verse 3 – from Kendrick’s perspective. Looking in the mirror. His fear of death. He speaks to Dave’s brother, agreeing that Dave was like a brother to him. He speaks to Keisha’s sister saying that Keisha’s story was the one that drove him to write something that powerful and real – he didn’t mean to offend. He talks of how music saved him and pulled him away from the drugs, money and guns.
Skit #8 – K.Dot’s homies talking after Dave has been killed. Some of them want to go back and get revenge. K.Dot finally snaps and says he is tired of this ****.
I’m Dying of Thirst
Kendrick talks about been tired of running and gunning people down. It’s just a circle of death. The perpetual struggle.
Skit #9 – (EDITED) K.Dot is still angry and upset over Dave’s death. An unknown woman (perhaps a passer-by/shop-keeper) approaches the boys; she sees that one of them has a gun “That better not be what I think it is.” She tells them that they are dying of thirst and that they need to take a new path and let Jesus in to their lives. She makes them prayer. From here on K.Dot begins to live a new life as Kendrick Lamar.
This is Kendrick disregarding the street life and turning his back on gang-banging, drugs, alcohol, violence etc. The different meanings of being “real”. Are you real because you represent your hood and shoot people? Are you real because you try to escape that life and make something of yourself?
Verse 1 – about certain girls (but could be Sherane). She loves handbags, French Tip, bank slips. But what love got to do with it when you don’t love yourself?
Verse 2 – about certain homies (but could be Dave’s brother). He loves fast cars, fast women, beef, streets, ducking police, hood-life. But what love got to do with it when you don’t love yourself?
Verse 3 – about Kendrick. He explains the previous two verses - “I love first verse cos you’re the girl I attract.” and “I love second verse cos your the homie that packed burner.” “I love what the both of you have to offer.”
He wonders if he should hate her for what happened or should he hate his homies for convincing him to seek revenge. Or should he hate the fact that none of that **** makes him real.
Skit #10 – voice-mail from his Father. He tells Kendrick not to make the same mistakes he did, and that none of this stuff makes him real and that he should get out and make something of himself. His Mother tells him that Top Dawg called and wants him in the studio – she tells him to take his music career seriously – that it is his chance to get out and tell his story to the kids of Compton so that they have hope. This is technically the end of the story in a narrative sense - the tape is ejected and then rewound.
The narrative is over. This song is after Kendrick has made it and is now giving back just like his Mother told him too. It’s a positive outlook of a city that is often full of darkness and violence.
Skit #11 - the narrative starts over again when K.Dot borrows his Mother’s van.