Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp a Butterfly


4.7
superb

Review

by Jade Royal EMERITUS
March 21st, 2015 | 7023 replies


Release Date: 03/17/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "We ain't even really rappin', we just letting our dead homies tell stories for us."

Kendrick Lamar writes his music through colors. “Lamar works synesthetically,” says audio engineer Derek Ali in the Compton-based rapper’s Rolling Stone feature out this month. According to Ali, Lamar demanded certain colors be created within the songs on To Pimp A Butterfly. These particular hues, whether “purple” or even “light green,” dictated the moods deemed necessary for the themes at hand. This begins to explain why this album is so musically diverse- it flies from ‘70s-styled funk to neo-soul influences, all in accordance with Lamar’s personal visions. And for anyone who’s truly immersed themselves in To Pimp A Butterfly for the past week, this artistic feat seems more and more like cause to celebrate- the backdrop always suits the accompanying lyrical themes exceptionally well. The blueprint of the sinister “U” is as laced with rife tension as its counterpoint “I” is abundant with jaunty self-confirmation. Because of the wide array of contributors to ensure the album meets the emotional quotas Kendrick has set forth for it, every song possesses a distinctive identity, a different color fleshed out by its instrumentation. And the lyrical wonders Lamar works on top of all this is even more worthy of praise.

Kendrick Lamar writes his music about color. There’s no bigger topic on To Pimp A Butterfly than race relations- it’s something the 27-year-old rapper has focused on throughout his musical career. Race is emphasized because it is relevant; the surrounding inequalities, after all, single-handedly spawned rap in the first place. These songs are not just about skin color but about its implications- how, for instance, Lamar is treated by the music industry for being part of a culture that is hastily and thoughtlessly thrown in with one status symbol after another. “You can live at the mall,” offers Lamar’s portrayal of Uncle Sam towards his successful rapper self in “Wesley’s Theory,” but this is not the future he wants. Now that Kendrick has found success, his main desire is to help raise up those who have helped him along the way. He is aiming to make the voices of the oppressed louder. Lamar sees this as his obligation, his duty, now that he’s garnered the audience he has sought this whole time. This can be difficult for a newfound man of means, especially when his connections from childhood could very well resent him for his success- and To Pimp A Butterfly is about this conflict, as well as the overwhelmingly ill-founded sentiment that any particular person, regardless of skin color, deserves anything less than what they want in this world. As Rapsody, featured rapper in “Complexion (A Zulu Love,)” puts it: “we all on the same team / blues and pirus, no colors ain’t a thing.”

Kendrick Lamar wrote this album in order to point out differences between colors. They don't just exist; they have a right to be appreciated and celebrated. “Just because you wore a different gang color than mine’s / doesn’t mean I can’t respect you as a black man,” Lamar reveals in “Mortal Man,” the song containing the final rendition of To Pimp A Butterfly’s recurring poem. Differences needn’t be a cause of conflict, especially when American minorities are given enough undue grief. This is no treatise for equal treatment, for such a concept would undermine entirely the characteristics unique to every hue. Each color has its own history, and throughout To Pimp A Butterfly Lamar emphasizes that blackness holds a narrative of its own, extensive and long misunderstood. Kendrick Lamar sees it as a perseverance through countless adversities, a certain kind of pride experienced by those who have waded through the murk spewed from white capitalist America. Perhaps blackness is more than a color- maybe its surrounding framework suggests it is instead an ideology of togetherness, and as Kendrick would have it, respect from one to another- love for those who love you back.



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1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Jade
Emeritus
March 21st 2015


10697 Comments


It's a special feeling to listen to an album like this and realize how immeasurably huge it's going to be for hip-hop.

And thanks for looking over this review for me, StrangerOfSorts / Jonny : )

Ryus
March 21st 2015


15141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice

Digging: Fredo Santana - Fredo Kruger 2

Lakes.
March 21st 2015


543 Comments


nice review MISTER BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL

your prose is good. still need to listen to this.

deathschool
March 21st 2015


21841 Comments


Ah, yeah. Staff is on the hype train. This bitch is pulling out all the stops. Reading now.

Solbrave
March 21st 2015


574 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is a really really fucking good review

deathschool
March 21st 2015


21841 Comments


[2]

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2015


6221 Comments


oh sweet an aziz rev.... oh

jtswope
March 21st 2015


5549 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn, Kendrick.

StrangerofSorts
Staff Reviewer
March 21st 2015


2897 Comments


whoever helped edit this is sexy and deserves money and fame and maltesers.

ChoccyPhilly
March 21st 2015


11595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It would be amazing if the average ends up at 4.7

Digging: Nyss - Princesse Terre

trackbytrackreviews
March 21st 2015


3315 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

no classic mind neg

Jade
Emeritus
March 21st 2015


10697 Comments


Hehe. Thanks guys

wtferrothorn
Contributing Reviewer
March 21st 2015


5734 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I feel like if I could use .1 increments, this would be my exact score. Maybe 4.8 or something, but great review anyway!

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 21st 2015


24613 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Disagreed on the rating but a very good review nonetheless

Digging: The National - Sleep Well Beast

Necrotica
March 21st 2015


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great review for this masterpiece. my review will be up soon as well... this is so damn good

Beej977
March 21st 2015


4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't normally comment on anything. In fact, this is my first (Yay me!). But this is a fantastic album and a fantastic review. Super work all around, if there's a better record out this year (rap, jazz or bloody otherwise) ill eat my hat.

deathschool
March 21st 2015


21841 Comments


Ummm. Whoa

Cygnatti
March 21st 2015


31801 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

beej man rate it! ^_^

Beej977
March 21st 2015


4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't think I can live with the pressure, you're asking a lot, there's so much to consider...ahh, it's a 4.8 currently. But I'm gonna round it down for the real thing, I reserve the right to change my mind later. By the way, hi everyone.

trackbytrackreviews
March 21st 2015


3315 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

4.76



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