Kendrick Lamar is a little rapper with big ideas. After putting his entire generation on his back with the acclaimed (if rambling) sociological treatise Section 80, the Compton rapper turns the lens back on himself with his major label debut. good kid m.A.A.d city is an autobiographical rap album of epic proportions, told by more than one narrator and across an overlong sprawl of multi-movement songs and interwoven skits. It's a record so ambitious—arrogant even—that it would seem destined to be a complete mess. And yet good kid never comes unhinged. In part this is due to its stunning production bed, which contemporizes Outkast's space age thump and rounds out the more decadent musical affections of The Roots, but mostly it succeeds because Kendrick is just a superb rapper. His rhymes are elastic, his cadences melt rhythms and he possesses an eye for writerly detail that evokes Nas in his prime. Any tale he chooses to tell demands a listen.