Album Review: Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” 5-out-of-5-stars
Mon, 16 Mar 2015 09:58:52
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In many ways, on Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, Kendrick Lamar just scratched the surface. The album deserves its unanimous praise and indisputable classic status. However, the long-awaited follow-up To Pimp a Butterfly [iTunes link] will be regarded as the record that solidified the Grammy Award-winning Compton MC as a legend. Another journey, albeit a different one from good kid, m.A.A.d city, To Pimp a Butterfly takes flight right into the heart of darkness and emerges with something unequivocally gorgeous. Now, Kendrick knew that he had to make a statement. He’s like a prizefighter who’s got to defend that title, but he does so like Muhammad Ali with lyrical grace, eloquence, and elegance supported in a ring of timeless soul and R&B.
On the entrancing opener “Wesley’s Theory” featuring Thundercat, it’s as if he picks up where he left off with a funkified bass line and he announces, “At first I did love you.” Well, in actuality, the love hasn’t disappeared within the honest and incendiary verses as he gives the world what it wanted, especially in between a voicemail from Dr. Dre who reminds him, “Anybody can get it. The hard part is keeping it motherfucker!”
He keeps it on the wily and powerful “King Kunta,” which sees him forcefully take the throne swinging a lyrical axe. Anna Wise lends a soulful siren’s soliloquy to “Institutionalized,” breaking down walls in the process. “u” works as the perfect companion to “i” with its jazz-y horn sections and Lamar’s poignant words and howls. “Momma” feels vivid in its execution like it could’ve been taken right from Clockers or another Spike Lee classic. One of the standouts “How Much a Dollar Cost” pairs Lamar with Ronald Isley for a slice of soul that could bring a tear to Marvin Gaye’s eye. After the previously released tracks “The Blacker The Berry” and “i,” everything culminates on the chillingly uplifting “Mortal Man,” which stretches past the six-minute mark and evinces some of his best rapping yet, “When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?” kicking the door open.
Overall, To Pimp a Butterfly is a study in contrast. It’s encapsulated in the title, and it’s across the words and music. To Pimp a Butterfly is also one of the greatest rap albums of all-time. It’s everything you wanted and so much more.
What’s your favorite song from To Pimp A Butterfly?