Two days before the official October 22 release of his studio debut, Kendrick Lamar dropped free non-album cut The Heart Part 3. It's autobiographical, ferociously rapped and ends with "Will you let hip-hop die on October 22?" That's a quaint idea, weirdly (perhaps disingenuously?) espoused by Lamar, who misses the idea that rapping well - not just buying records - will ensure its survival.
That said, Lamar's invincible on good kid, and reveals just how deft his hand is. He adeptly straddles pop-rap (Swimming Pools), grizzled lyricism (Backseat Freestyle), love jams (Poetic Justice), trendy collabs (m.A.A.d. city with MC Eiht) and crew records (Money Trees). Voice-mail clips from his parents - slices of latch-key kid life - play between tracks. All the while, he remains magnanimous but brash, never conceding to collaborators or the beat, rapping hard - channelling multiple voices - as if hip-hop depended on it.
Top track: good kid