Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city vs. Clipse’s Lord Willin’. Which Is Better?

One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?

“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.

The next two albums to face off released just under a decade apart. Both The Clipse’s Lord Willin’ and Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city blended strong hometown tales, with uncompromising lyrical skill. K-Dot, Pusha T, and the MC then-known-as Malice all can spin a yarn of a story with detail, conviction, and a complete sphere of right versus wrong. In doing so, these MCs boldly uphold the tenants of rapping instilled in them by their influences. These commercially dominant, critically-acclaimed works ushered in distinct, new sounds to Rap. After steamrolling over their Round 1 opponents, these esteemed LPs face off in a bout that looks far from easy (click one then click “vote”).


good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city represented the Compton, California MC’s first release with major label backing. Following the heralded Section.80, K-Dot landed himself not only a top Interscope Records distribution deal, but also the tutelage and stamp of approval from Dr. Dre and his Aftermath Entertainment. Based on those changes in surroundings, the world anticipated resulting changes in the artist. With so many weapons at his disposal and advisers on his board, Kendrick Lamar would undoubtedly go big—just as others like him had done. However, when the album released—audiences showed no disappointment in Dre’s production absence. The truth is, there might not be anyone quite like Kendrick Lamar. Rather, G.K.M.C. proved that Kendrick’s formula as an independent was wildly in tact as a chart-soaring platinum act. The themes, the guests, and the sound of Kendrick Lamar were unscathed. However, the focus, refinement, and brilliant execution of concept were refined—whether due to artistic maturity, or the enhanced world surrounding the MC.

While Kendrick Duckworth had two acclaimed (and charting) albums already under his belt, good kid… played like a debut. The 24 year-old went back to his childhood, his family inner-workings, and Hub City to find a detailed world of circumstance. “The Art Of Peer Pressure” was a charged ride-along with adolescents doing bad, at extremely high stakes. “Good Kid” and “m.A.A.d city” were one-two punches on the juxtaposition of a highly-observant, “chosen” prodigy living in a world where street-gangs, hard drugs, and survival rule. Kendrick Lamar did not describe a world that delivered him. Instead, his beats, cadences, and angst kidnapped the listener to Rosecrans Avenue, fed ’em a Tam’s Burger, and tucked their chain in. Just as he’d done on the last album, Lamar showed that while the rest of the world was evolving, the C-P-T was still as Darwinist as any ecosystem in the world. “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst” presented a Jazz-savvy poet, who rhymed with an intellect and sincerity unrivaled. However, even if the TDE star seemed like an artist unwilling to deliver lighthearted music, “Swimming Pools” would charm DJs with elements of Screw, EDM, and Trap—never shunning sophisticated flows or substance. In one captivating brush stroke, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city explained just who the MC was.

Album Number: 3
Released: October 22, 2012
Label: Top Dawg/Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #2 (certified gold, December 2012; certified platinum, August 2013)
Song Guests: Drake, Jay Rock, MC Eiht, Dr. Dre, ScHoolboy Q, Kent Jamz, Anna Wise, Ill Camille, JMSN, Chad Hugo, Amari Parnell, Mary Keating, Charly & Margaux, Gabriel Stevenson
Song Producers: Just Blaze, Pharrell Williams, Hit-Boy, Tha Bizness, Sounwave, DJ Dahi, Tabu, Scoop Deville, Terrace Martin, Likewise, Skyhe Hutch, T-Minus, THC


Lord Willin’ by Clipse

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, The Neptunes helped move the sound away from a sample-reliant style and back to the language of the drum. After packing heat for Jay Z, Mystikal, N.O.R.E., and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the Virginia duo put up a shingle as Star Trak Records, and looked within their network. The Brothers Thornton, better known as Pusha T and Malice were just what the ‘Tunes needed—and an act who they had worked with on the indefinitely shelved Elektra Records album, Exclusive Audio Footage. At a time when Jay’s hustling exploits were strongly resonating with the mainstream Rap consciousness, the duo known as the Clipse were riding dirty with stories in the trunk, and fiery flows to deliver it hard and raw. Lord Willin’ combined the cinematic drama of Blow, the fervent rapping of Hip-Hop’s park cyphers, and the back-to-the-future mastery of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, all at once.

“Grindin'” proved to be the demonstrative calling card for Clipse. In an era of ostentatious music-making, this record traded St. Tropez for the schoolyard lunch-room. The Neptunes used tabletops and lockers as inspiration for Terrence and Gene to rap about their cocaine exploits in a way that stashed the evidence. The record had the same pop-savvy qualities as Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” three years later, but this was a literal narco-rap. The two MCs used their voices as percussion instruments, the perfect complement to an album driven by drums. Songs like “When The Last Time” needed no dope to prove their dopeness, as the group slowed down their flow, but emphasized their cadences and compound rhymes. “Virginia” showed a different side of the state than heard from Timbaland, Missy, or Skillz. The place where The Notorious B.I.G. and Jay proclaimed they broke bread in the ’90s was the same environment Malice and Pusha called home. In total, this showed a new level of musicality in Gangsta Rap. Elektra’s disbelief in Clipse in the ’90s proved to be Star Trak’s enterprise. Lord Willin’ remains a zenith for the group, the producers, and the V.A. label.

Album Number: 1
Released: August 20, 2002
Label: Star Trak/Arista Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #4 (certified gold, October 2002)
Song Guests: Pharrell, Lil Wayne, N.O.R.E., Birdman, Fabolous, Jadakiss, Styles P, Jermaine Dupri, Faith Evans, Rosco P. Coldchain, Kardinal Offishall, Kelis, Fam-lay, Sean Paul, Bless, Ab-Liva
Song Producers: The Neptunes (Pharrell & Chad Hugo)

So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.

Related: Ambrosia For Heads’ Finding The GOAT: The Albums