Kendrick Lamar Changed 'good kid, m.A.A.d city' At Last Minute, TDE's Punch Reveals

One of Kendrick Lamar’s most beloved good kid, m.A.A.d city songs almost sounded different had it not been for the Compton rapper making a last-minute change.

While celebrating the album’s 10th anniversary on Saturday (October 22), Top Dawg Entertainment President Terrence “Punch” Henderson revealed on Twitter that the menacing hook on “m.A.A.d city” was added by Kendrick just hours before good kid, m.A.A.d city was due to be submitted for completion.

“Man it’s so much to say about that album. We all put everything into it. GKMC was the start. We made our mark in Hip Hop and music in general with that album. I’m forever grateful to have played a part in it,” the TDE executive reflected.

When a fan asked him about his favorite memory of making the album, Punch replied: “Can’t think of a favorite. But one memory is Kdot adding the hook part on madd city literally hours before mastering. I think he actually had to send the hook cause [MixedByAli] had left to get it mastered already. So that song was just one verse at first.”

Produced by Sounwave and THC, “m.A.A.d city” has long been a favorite at Kendrick Lamar’s concerts and festival appearances thanks to its riotous energy and streetwise storytelling. K. Dot’s hook, delivered through a pitched-down voice, only adds to the brutal realism of the song.

“Man down, where you from, n-gga? / Fuck who you know — where you from, my n-gga? / Where your grandma stay, huh, my n-gga? / This m.A.A.d city I run, my n-gga,” he asks the listener, as if confronting them for wandering into the wrong hood.

The second half of the song, produced by Terrace Martin, pays homage to Kendrick’s West Coast Hip Hop heritage with guest vocals from Compton rap legend MC Eiht, lyrical nods to Ice Cube and Warren G, and an ominous, cinematic beat reminiscent of Dr. Dre.

In an 2012 interview with Complex, Kendrick Lamar revealed the dual meaning behind “m.A.A.d city,” which he called “the side of Compton that everybody knows, the aggressive side.”

“‘m.A.A.d city’ has two meanings: My Angel on Angel Dust and My Angry Adolescence Divided,” he said. “If you listen to the album [you’ll find out] the reason why I don’t smoke weed. Because once upon a time, you’d find stuff laced with cocaine [and angel dust]. That caused a reaction and I put that inside the song. That really happened to me. That’s the reason for the title.”

Kendrick’s hook wasn’t the only last-minute change to the song. In the same interview, Sounwave revealed “m.A.A.d city” initially featured a sample of blues legend B.B. King, until sample clearance issues forced them to rework the beat in the final hours.

“Originally, that song had a B.B. King record sampled on it. At the last minute, we find out we couldn’t use it. But we needed this record on the project. We couldn’t lose it,” he said. “So I make some phone calls and find this incredible player named Mary Keeting and she just took it to another level.”

He added: “At first, the record was good. But after she did what she did with it… We can’t even stand [to listen to] the original version now.”

Kendrick Lamar joined the good kid, m.A.A.d city 10th anniversary celebrations himself over the weekend, sharing a rare tweet that read: “gkmc 10 the brotherhood in what we created is forever.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winner also released an exclusive 10th anniversary vinyl of the album, featuring limited edition cover art.