m.A.A.d. is a lush portrait of contemporary Compton, California; the camera sinuously glides through predominantly African-American neighborhoods, pausing to capture quotidian moments – driving in a car, a marching band, the barbershop – that are suffused with creativity, joy, and sadness. The split screen divides the viewer’s attention, and alludes to the history of auteur cinema – a form of filmmaking pioneered by French director Jean-Luc Godard – that sacrifices linear narrative for experimentation with the formal and political
possibilities of filmmaking.
m.A.A.d. extends this tradition of formal experimentation by crossing the wires of music videos, amateur film footage, and moments of magical realism. The two-part projection may also slyly evoke philosopher W.E.B. Dubois’s early-20th-century concept of ‘double consciousness,’ a psychological quandary in which one’s sense of self is informed by the other. The film’s verbally dense and thick booming soundtrack, provided by hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar – whose 2012 song m.A.A.d. gives the film its title – adds yet another layer to this prismatic account of contemporary life in Los Angeles.