Storytelling and Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City

I finally got to listening to GKMC, and after several listens, the storyteller inside me wanted to see if the album followed the same kind of story structure most movies and conventional novels follow.

Usually, a story has three big plot turns in the narrator:

  • The 20%-25% point.
  • The midpoint
  • The 75% point.

So I did simple math and jumped to each part. Sure enough, the percentiles are within the general ballpark of the most plot-turning tracks, even though the narrative’s non-linear.

  • The 25% is at “The Art of Peer Pressure”, when K-Dot first realizes the impact of his current life.
  • The midpoint is at the beginning of “M.A.A.D. City”, while K-Dot having his second big epiphany.
  • And of course, the 75% point is in the middle of “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”, which depicts both the spiritual death and rebirth of K-Dot.

Similarly, the plot turns set apart Act I (in which the story is established), Act II (in which K-Dot takes his physical and spiritual journey), and then Act III (in which he comes of age, becomes a man, and sets out to make music as an artist.)

It’s not perfect, but it shows that Kendrick definitely put some thought on timing.


January 23rd, 2014

Interesting discussion. I will have to listen again for this.

January 23rd, 2014

Lol….its not perfect….then what is

January 23rd, 2014
TMPBeats's photo


Uh I think this might be a case of ‘overthinking music’.

January 23rd, 2014

I always thought GKMC resemble the movie friday, lol think about it

January 23rd, 2014
afarese's photo


Interesting take. One of the reasons I love GKMC so much is because of the storytelling..didn’t pick up on that, will have to listen again.

January 23rd, 2014
DiMES's photo


kendrick has always been one of the best with his song orders. that shit is a verry underrated skill.

some niggas are just terrible at it

January 23rd, 2014

Its not just song placement, this is like a film. I can see all the plotpoints, every song furthers the story line, from sherane to compton.

January 23rd, 2014

Yes, I completely agree with your break-down.

January 23rd, 2014
metron's photo


It’s not perfect, but it shows that Kendrick definitely put some thought on timing

You may be right, but whose to say what perfect is? Sure, that may be a common format but when it comes to artistry like this then maybe it’s a good thing it didn’t follow perfect format. I think it’s pretty cool when stories are told in a way that’s not predictable at all. (Not that GKMC is super different or anything, just talking about story telling in general)

January 23rd, 2014

The spiritual death? Explain..

January 23rd, 2014

January 24th, 2014

I absolutely love that album,

Kendrick paints a rather vivid picture.

January 24th, 2014

Well it is titled:

good kid, m.A.A.d city — A short film by Kendrick Lamar

January 24th, 2014

album is trash brother, kendric fell off after youngest head nigga in charge

January 24th, 2014