Growing up in Compton, Kendrick Lamar idolized Tupac Shakur and by 16 had recorded a series of mixtapes under the name K.Dot. In 2009 he finally dropped the moniker and chose to go by his birth name but it wasn't until a hometown concert in 2011 where he was joined onstage by hip hop icons, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, and the Game that solidified Kendrick's rise from underground cult hero to mainstream superstar. A little more than a year later, Lamar released his first major label debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city; a sprawling masterpiece of technical rapping and structured storytelling that defies and expands the conventions of this genre. It's a classic album that feels like a classic movie, deftly weaving moments from Kendrick's life together to form a narrative that becomes an empathetic ode to a troubled and dangerous place. Good kid, m.A.A.d city landed in the tiny overlap between popular adoration and critical respect, selling more copies in its first week than any other debut album in 2012 and earning massive nod from hundreds of industry outlets. Following the success of his debut album the 25 year-old Compton rapper is currently working on a collaborative album with J.Cole, but can be content to have made something that many great rappers spend their whole careers trying to make: a classic album, a serious affirmation of rap as a vital art form, and proof that an artist can sell records with "no compromise at all."