The current generation of hip hop listeners have been blessed that “King” Kendrick Lamar has graced them with the artistry many haven’t heard since the 90’s from the likes of rappers Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, and Dr. Dre. The Top Dawg Entertainment star released good kid M.a.a.d City, Lamar’s second LP and first major label LP following Section 80. The grammy nominated rap album classic GKMC sparkplugged Lamar’s career and killed all doubt of the Compton bred rapper’s talent leaving many to pose the question, “Would King Kendrick have a sophomore slump?”
Prior to the March 16th release of To Pimp a Butterfly via iTunes the TDE leader released two singles i and The Blacker the Berry that were unlike any songs from GKMC leaving those to wonder what Lamar was doing. Lamar proceeded to again shock many with the eccentric Untitled song performed on The Colbert Report.
To Pimp A Butterfly is a calling from Lamar to his listeners on the topics of race, stereotypes, social opinion, politics while addressing these topics over jazz and funky beats inspired by songs from the 70’s and the production crew of Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Bilal, James Fauntleroy, Ronald Isley, Anna Wise, and Ti$a. These artist provide the profound old school beats and powerful black power and uplifting theme throughout the album. TPAB is simply an album a listener can’t play in their car once and immediately love what is illustrated on the album it requires repetitive listens and deep concentration to capture the full emotion of the beats and lyrical messages Kendrick brings to life.
TPAB starts off with the funk and soul beat on the song “Wesley’s Theory” setting the tone for the album in which Kendrick portrays himself as a Black Man who just made it famous as an entertainer and blows his money giving no care in the world. Verse two illustrates a White male who sees the potential in Kendrick looking at him only for his money and the opportunity for exploitation while the revolving hook re-iterates “We should never gave n*****s money, go back home”. Kendrick professes his love for being black on “The Blacker the Berry” giving many reasons why being black is a blessing and you should love yourself like he loves himself. He continues by stating all of his physical features and how the Aryan race’s main objective is to bring down the African American race. Kendrick closes his many social and racial topics by concluding the album exquisitely with “Mortal Man” which he tests his fans questioning them, “When s**t hit the fan is you still a fan” asking his listeners and wondering to those who claim they’re dedicated to his music and craft will they be by his side and believe the message he is preaching. On this song he brings up prominent historical figures from the likes of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X, JFK, Moses, Huey Newton, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Jackson, and Michael Jackson all notable figures who’s fan base and followers were very fair-weather when times for these influential figures were rough…So when s***t hits the fan will you still be a fan of Kendrick? The 27 year-old clearly has an abundance of potential and will be around in the long-term future. To Pimp A Butterfly is a well-produced album, with many controversial lyrics that will remain in the minds of many with the overall hope of reducing racism and social inequality, this LP deserves a thoughtful deep listen and will grow on you by each minute.