On October 22, 2012, Kendrick Lamar released his first major label effort, good kid, m.A.A.d city, after signing with Aftermath/Interscope Records that March. The album—preceded by huge singles such as the Dr. Dre-assisted "The Recipe" and "Swimming Pools (Drank)"—was almost instantly regarded as a new classic, grabbing praise from every corner of the hip-hop landscape, receiving only the ninth XXL review this publication ever handed out, and launching Lamar into the conversation as one of the best rappers and lyricists in the game.

The buildup to the release helped set the stage, of course. His work with Dre had him up on the stage performing alongside Snoop, Dre and Hologram Tupac at Coachella earlier that year, and he and the G-Funk pioneer covered the 15th anniversary issue of XXL in August. But things accelerated once the album came out, and, of course, nothing's been the same since they dropped "Control." An eventful year that saw both his album and second single reach Platinum status and his star-studded collaborations expand to include Jay Z, Jeezy and Game, to name a few, was crowned with his verse on Big Sean's unreleased track, which called out 11 of his peers by name and saw Kendrick declare himself the King of New York, an assertion that ruffled a few feathers, to say the least.

Now a year later, gkmc celebrates its first birthday, and the kid from Compton has grown from a brilliant lyricist on the come-up to a whirlwind force in hip-hop who won't back down from anyone or anything—just a glance at his body language during the TDE Cypher at last week's BET Hip-Hop Awards proves that this is a different Kendrick than the one who dropped the album last year. With that in mind, XXL went back over the year since the album's release to recap Kendrick's biggest moments in the past 12 months. King Kendrick. —Dan Rys (@danrys)


Kendrick drops his debut major label album and promptly receives a XXL rating, the second given out in 2012 (the first being for Nas' Life Is Good) and only the ninth ever handed out by the magazine.

The album receives both critical and commercial acclaim from every corner of the hip-hop world and debuts at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, only being held out of the top slot by Taylor Swift's trend-bucking Red, which debuted the same day with 1.2 million sold. gkmc would sell 241,000 its first week and opened strongly at No. 1 atop the Rap charts. (Here are six things you may not have known about the album.)


In one of the only examples of shade thrown at the record, Shyne tweets that gkmc is "trash," despite Kendrick's talent as an artist.

That prompts a defense from Game, as well as a response from Kendrick a week later on the J. Cole-assisted "The Jig Is Up (Dump'n)," where he raps, "“I pray to God this beat is good enough for Shyne/ If not, J. Cole, your shit is trash!/ But at least my opinion just made everyone laugh.” Later, Game would drop a diss record aimed at Shyne in defense of Kendrick, saying “Let’s address that bitch ass nigga going at Kendrick / Say the album’s trash, nigga you full of gas / Poke holes in you, let you fill up a New York cab / Nigga in Belize all into his feelings ’cause he did 10 years for shooting at the ceiling / Then he gave you a mil, little nigga should have chilled / Cute curly sideburns, talkin’ ’bout he real / Check my resume, any nigga want it, I bury ‘em / But fuck this nigga, he can’t get into America.”


Kendrick responds to his album being the first West Coast album to receive a XXL rating, saying “Man, it just shows you that when you respect the art, it will come back to you full circle with people that you respect and that’s been doing it. I respect the music that much more. I think that’s why people give me that recognition, because they see it the same way. Shout out to XXL, that’s a tremendous accomplishment in my eyes. Not only in my eyes but in the world’s eyes, for the West Coast in general.”

He would then expand on some of the concepts behind the album, as well as his relationship with J. Cole in an interview the next day.


On election day, Kendrick joins Jay Z to rep for "Hip-Hop Kings Who Vote" telling MTV, ""I think that's one of our biggest failures as a community, as a generation: not wanting to go out and do for ourselves and to sit back and wait."

A$AP Rocky drops the video for "Fuckin' Problems," featuring Drake, Kendrick and 2 Chainz. The video is pretty straightforward, but the song is a hit, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming Rocky, Chainz and Kendrick's highest-charting single.

Game—fresh off his passionate defense of Kendrick—drops the final single in the buildup to his Jesus Piece album titled "Murder," and featuring Scarface and Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick creates buzz by heading down under for his first ever Australian tour with four dates hitting Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Interscope proudly announces that gkmc goes Gold, selling 500,000 copies less than two months after its release. Kendrick would later say that 80 percent of those sales were down to word of mouth.


K.Dot drops the official video for "Backseat Freestyle," featuring an extended and hilarious twerk session by "Sherane" while he stands against his car.

Ab-Soul drops the video for his Kendrick-assisted "Illuminate" off Control Systems.


The album's second single, "Swimming Pools (Drank)," is certified Platinum by the RIAA.

Kendrick makes his first appearance on SNL, performing "Swimming Pools (Drank)." The same week, his hilarious video with The Lonely Island and Adam Levine, called "YOLO," comes out.

Kendrick explains to Miss Info why he isn't working on his next album. "I don't want to force things, you know," he says. "I still wanna live in this moment. My biggest mistake right now today is just not living in the moment and understanding everything that's going on right now."


The inaugural XXL Awards are handed out, with Kendrick receiving the Reader's Choice award for Rapper Of The Year and Album Of The Year as well as the award for Best Debut Album.

Kendrick's acceptance speech is right here.


K.Dot stays in the spotlight with a shining appearance on 50 Cent's "We Up," the second single from 50's Street King Immortal.

Kendrick grabs Drake for the "Poetic Justice" video for which he says he wanted Janet Jackson to make a cameo.

Kendrick is named the Hottest MC in the Game by MTV. He comes back to a familiar refrain for him, calling it "important for hip-hop." "I love it," he says. "I love that they have debates like that. We need that. It is competitive.”


Jay Z hops on the remix to Kendrick's "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe," and TDE films the studio session where K.Dot first hears Jay's verse. "That nigga bodied that shit," he says, clearly awed by what he hears. "Daaaaaaamn. That shit is grimy."

Miguel drops the remix to his track "How Many Drinks?" that features Kendrick, then unveils the video nine days later, which highlights some excellent fashion decisions.


Kendrick announces a 15-country, 60-show good kid, m.A.A.d city world tour, with ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock along for the ride. The tour kicks off May 5 and lasts throughout the majority of the summer.

The tour comes immediately on the heels of Kendrick's Spring college tour with Steve Aoki and Bad Rabbits, which overlaps briefly into May and June.


K.Dot officially drops the video for "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe," featuring a funeral (for his vibe?) and Kendrick wearing all white linen. The video would eventually be nominated for a BET Hip-Hop Award, losing out to Drake's "Started From The Bottom" video.


Kendrick performs at Summer Jam, but his set is more notable for Papoose, who comes out on stage and performs two tracks after K.Dot makes his exit.

The story went that Pap was an early Kendrick supporter, and that K.Dot wanted to help him out by giving him five minutes. But that wouldn't be the end of the Kendrick-Papoose storyline...

ScHoolboy Q drops the single "Collard Greens," featuring a verse from Kendrick. The video follows two months later with the two chilling by a pool and a cameo by Macklemore.


Kendrick accepts ASCAP's Vanguard Award from Dr. Dre. “Kendrick Lamar is a class act,” Dr. Dre says before introducing K.Dot. “I’m proud to know him. I’m proud to work with him and he is an important part of the new generation of hip-hop.”

Kendrick's debut goes platinum, shipping 1 million copies in just over eight months. He's awarded a platinum plaque by the RIAA. That night he also wins the Best New Artist and Best Male Hip-Hop Artist awards at the BET Awards.


The most infamous day of his year: Kendrick absolutely lights the hip-hop world on fire after Big Sean premieres his unreleased "Control" track on Funkmaster Flex.

Kendrick names names—including both of the other two rappers on the track with him, Sean and Jay Electronica—and proclaims himself King Of New York, sparking a slew of responses and making Kendrick Public Hip-Hop Enemy—or savior—No. 1.

A day later, legendary producers 9th Wonder and Young Guru discuss what it all means while at a studio in New York City for Rapsody's listening party.


Papoose responds to Kendrick's King Of New York claim with a verse of his own which goes directly at Kendrick.

Later, BET would leak a 15-second snippet of Kendrick's BET Cypher, which appeared to be directed at Drake, but on further examination seemed more like it was a response to Papoose, the only person who K.Dot had responded to since "Control" dropped. Papoose then got onto the phone with XXL where he went after Kendrick again, this time saying that the Compton MC "couldn't shine my shoes, lyrically."


gkmc officially sells one million copies, hitting the mark after attention from his "Control" verse turned the spotlight back onto Kendrick's album.


Kendrick tells Power 105 that, though he met Eminem briefly, they didn't get a chance to work together. That would be debunked a few weeks later with the release of the tracklist for Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP 2, which featured just one rapper—Kendrick.

Kanye West announces his first solo tour in five years with opener Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick delivers a fire verse for Pusha T's "Nosetalgia," one of his best 16s of the year. The video would drop three weeks later, getting a stark, black-and-white treatment that was almost less expressive than the wordplay between K.Dot and Push.


TDE's Cypher and performance steals the show at the BET Hip-Hop Awards. Kendrick wins Best Lyricist for the second year in a row and lands the best verse in the Cyphers, according to XXL.


Black Hippy and TDE covers the October/November issue of XXL.


Kendrick wraps up a whirlwind year with the one-year anniversary of gkmc, his first platinum album and one that achieved one of the rarest distinctions of all: classic status.