As album debuts go, Nas’ landmark 1994 Illmatic has taken to otherworldly status even within the pantheon of towering hip-hop statements. For many rap fans and music critics, the vivid set has taken on Citizen Kane like status—a work so vast, inventive and powerful that it is viewed as the cultural and artistic game changer of its time. So without further ado, here’s some red meat for the music blogging contingent: Kendrick Lamar’s stunning debut, good kid, M.A.A.d City, is the most important freshman release since the Queensbridge

, New York legend proclaimed to the world that life’s a bitch.

Sounds sacrilegious? Stay with us. While the much talked about 25-year-old Compton, California MC will find it nearly impossible to live up to Nas’ glorious masterpiece (it’s hard to beat nostalgia), he is doing something else that is just as impressive. Dr. Dre’s newest co-sign is living up to the hype. Lamar, who lit up the underground rap scene with such noise-making mixtapes as Youngest Head Nigga in Charge (2003) and Overly Dedicated (2010) and his acclaimed indie release Section.80 (2011), is not at all running away from the buzz of him being the West Coast’s hip-hop savior.

In fact, Kendrick Lamar seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. Jay-Z lauds him. The aforementioned Nas has called him the future. Even Lady Gaga has sung the kid’s praises. “Everything he’s doing is done with integrity,” MTV personality and Sirius Satellite radio host Sway Calloway tells VIBE. The West Coast hip-hop authority believes Lamar has purity about him. “His music is done with passion and thought,” he adds. “Kendrick spent time and energy on these songs, man.”

As thirsty fans feverishly hunt down leaks of the October 22 release, VIBE breaks down why good kid, m.A.A.d city conjures up memories of a young Nasir Jones and what the upcoming album means for the future of California rap and beyond.