To Pimp a Butterfly
I originally didn’t care for Kendrick Lamar –the flow was too uneven on his breakthrough first album, good kid, m.A.A.D. City. However, his follow up, To Pimp A Butterfly, is a brilliant album from beginning to end.
Lamar described his latest as, “honest, fearful, and unapologetic.” Fellow rapper and colleague Mickey Factz described it as, “a Spike Lee soundtrack, 70’s Parliament, 60’s militant, pro-black, and powerful.” I could not agree more with both of those assessments.
The album is a mixture of poetry, beautiful interludes, jazz and funk, all styles pervading harmoniously throughout the entire effort. The opening track, “Wesley’s Theory” ft. George Clinton & Thundercat, opens with a soulful sample of a Boris Gardiner song, then hits hard with a banger of a beat at the 0:45 mark. The funkadelic jam is just the start of this tour-de-force.
Butterfly is a breath of fresh air to a world of seemingly unoriginal, mainstream “radio rap.” In a New York Times article titled “Weight of His Words” by Joe Coscarelli, the author states, “On his new album, Kendrick Lamar is more outwardly political, confronting race and police violence, and aiming criticism at himself – a well-put analysis when you hear the tone and atmosphere that Butterfly brings.
With samples ranging from Tupac Shakur, Sufjan Stevens, and even Radiohead, interpolations of various artists combine to bring Butterfuly even further to life. All the critical acclaim its receiving aside, you truly have to enjoy this masterpiece for yourself.