To Pimp A Butterfly Review


Christian Santiago, Staff Writer

Who hasn’t heard Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, M.A.A.D. City? This album is one of those albums that was dubbed a classic upon release. The conceptual angle and the banging beats are what made it stick with not only hip hop listeners, but all music listeners. It’s been two years since it’s release, and Kendrick has been secretive about his upcoming album. Then he announced on Instagram, the name of the album, To Pimp A Butterfly. Three weeks later, it released a week earlier than expected.

TPAB is radically different from GKMC. While good kid was a conceptual album about a young Kendrick living in Compton, and having each song be a chapter in an overarching story, TPAB has no overarching story. Instead, Kendrick has an overarching theme. Each song is utterly jazzy. The entire album sounds like the B-Sides of producer Flying Lotus, known for his jazz-electro-hip hop fusion. While GKMC had a 90’s West Coast style, TPAB is a tribute to the entirety of hip hop, pulling in influences of G-Funk, P-Funk, Spoken Word.

GKMC was also a more accessible album. It was catered to hip hop fans, but it also had plenty of radio hits like “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “Poetic Justice” and “The Recipe” (Who hasn’t liked a Soundcloud remix of “M.A.A.D City?). TPAB however doesn’t really have a song like that. While as a whole each song is unique and has a lot of character, there isn’t really a song on here that can be listened out of context. This is an experience, and you need to feel it front to back. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something the average music listener might not agree with.

Kendrick easily could have made another GKMC. He easily could have giving what everyone wanted; more bangers with killer lyricism. More of the same. But instead, he went as far left as anyone could have taken their follow up album. I can personally say the first time I listened to TPAB, I wasn’t feeling it. WIthin two songs I felt “this isn’t as good as GKMC. Why would he do this?”. But you slowly realize, Kendrick always had jazz influence in his early albums, and this truly feels like the album Kendrick has always wanted to make.

If you’re expecting a good kid, M.A.A.D. City, don’t listen to this album. If you’re expecting a 2014 Forest Hills Drive, don’t listen to this album. If you’re expecting a If You’re Reading This Its Too Late, or a Dark Sky Paradise, don’t listen to this album. This is a hard album to get through, but the challenge is worth it. The lyricism, the production, the features, everything is on point. And I can testify that the album gets better with every listen.