100 Best Debut Albums of All Time

From the Beatles to Nas and beyond

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'good kid, m.A.A.d city'
Courtesy of Interscope Records86/100

86. 'good kid, m.A.A.d city'

Kendrick Lamar
Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope, 2012

The last thing hip-hop was expecting in 2012 was a record like Kendrick Lamar's debut: a mainstream triumph by a leftfield star, a classic album that built on narratives not punchlines or braggadocio, a cracked lens view of one of rap's sacred terrains, Compton, California. In good kid, m.A.A.d city, Lamar sets spiritual yearnings and moral dilemmas against a stark backdrop of gang violence and police brutality. When Lamar does unleash a hair-raising boast – "I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower/So I can fuck the world for 72 hours" – the triumphalism feels well-earned.

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