Kendrick Lamar Kills It with “To Pimp a Butterfly”
It seems like forever ago since “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” came out, but it has only been three years, and now Kendrick Lamar fans finally have his third studio album. “To Pimp a Butterfly” was released on March 16, and it is doing as amazing as anticipated. Noisey writer Ryan Bassil pointed out that “the record currently sits at Number One in the UK chart, smashed Spotify’s streaming record twice, and has been reverberating around the rap internet’s head for the past week.” Pitchfork gave the album a 9.3 and has it listed as “best new music” and the current rating on iTunes sits at four and a half stars. So many fans have been awaiting the release of this album, and it was definitely worth the wait.
Lamar’s first studio album, “Section.80,” almost seems juvenile compared to the hard-hitting lyrics of his two latest albums. “Section.80,” in general, was a good album, but Lamar’s career really took off with the release of “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.” With its handful of hits, like “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Swimming Pools,” which became instant classics, Lamar’s popularity skyrocketed. The sound of his third album does not differ much from his second, but while “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” showed Lamar’s potential to take the world by storm, “To Pimp a Butterfly” establishes that he is. He’s here – everywhere, actually – and he has a lot to offer hip-hop.
Between beats that echo “A Tribe Called Quest” and poetic lyrics,”To Pimp a Butterfly” is damn near perfect. A few songs ring of the classic hip-hop group, like “Institutionalized” (featuring Bilal, Anna Wise and Snoop Dogg), because of its creative mix of instruments and beats. Not only does “Institutionalized” have an amazing sound, but Lamar hits listeners with his poetic genius with lyrics like “No, streets put me through colleges / Be all you can be, true, but the problem is / Dream only a dream if work don’t follow it.” Lamar has always been real in his lyrics, but it’s possible he got realer in “To Pimp a Butterfly.” With this album, he is putting all of his beliefs and values on the line.
The song “Mortal Man” is a tribute to Tupac, and it “focuses on ideas of legacy, how to handle success, and the current generation of hip-hop” by “incorporating a two-decade old interview with the late rapper,” says Billboard. “The ghost of Mandela, hope my flows they propel it / Let these words be your earth and moon you consume every message / As I lead this army make room for mistakes and depression” is the opening hook in “Mortal Man,” and it sets the tone for the twelve-minute song and interview. It is impossible to ignore how incredible this song is between the lyrics and the urban, jazzy sound.
That jazzy sound is carried over to a lot of the songs on this album, but none of the songs sound too similar to one another because of their lyric content. Lamar is such a fantastic artist that even Ronald Isley of The Isley Brothers worked with him to create yet another masterpiece, “How Much a Dollar Cost.” Each and every song on this album is a work of art and deserves recognition as such. Ryan Bassil’s narrative guide to this album puts into words everything that the album embodies and goes into depth as to why this album is already being described as “an instant classic.” It is also important to mention that Lamar is credited as a writer for every single song on this album – which is no surprise, but incredibly important to note.
A fan on iTunes stated, “After finishing this album, I can truly say with confidence that this album is a masterpiece. There is nothing like this, Kendrick has created something perfect. It is perfect because it has a message, but the way Kendrick explained this message to me just blew me away. From ranting about the government and their carelessness for minorities to his subtle conversation with one of the most influential rappers who ever lived, 2Pac. This sequence of songs really brings it all in and in such a precise manner, leaving you to ponder about one of the most controversial issues in the US. I’m convinced this will get album of the year…” Which precisely sums up an album that rightfully deserves to be called the album of the year.
“To Pimp a Butterfly” is available on Spotify, iTunes and in stores right now.