Caution: Before you read this critique, please listen to the album beginning to end because this might spoil it for you! Heard the full album already? Carry on.
To Pimp a Butterfly, the Title. It was hard to grasp my mind around the title. I kept saying A Pimp to a Butterfly by accident and kept hearing “Float like a butterfly sting like a bee” in my mind. The title alone was beautiful. My initial interpretation was The butterfly is born in a weird state and now needs pimping? Hmm. I couldn’t wait for that Butterfly stuck in that cocoon to break free because we waited this long for it to be out. Uh like 2 years Kendrick? We all know Kendrick comes from a dark place and tries to release positivity to the people so i hoped the album could be a beautiful reflection of the name.
As i started to listen to the album im like OH NO … this is not for anybody, this is for the deep-rooted soulful eclectic mind. I admit i was bored in the beginning because i EXPECTED hype music because that’s what I’m used to right now as far as the “rap game”. The content and production hit me by surprise. I was wrong to expect and i was wrong to assume Kendrick was a follower. It was truly a reality check, like the turn up is over (for now). This is for the “raised right”, damn this is for the black empowerment movement. Most won’t understand this musical vibe Kendrick!, the composition. I got scared like man, they gonna kill this brother. Its real. This is not a hard knocker, this is not a chart topper, this is not an album of bangers, not hits and not smashes.
This album is opposite of the current topics of our music today (excluding the few positive influences we do have). If you’re used to listening to music like this all the time like i am you can appreciate its eclecticism. It is Hip Hop, but it’s also Rhythm, Jazz, Blues, Funk, Reggae and Soul. Like let me say this, LOOK UP THE DAMN list of producers, musicians and artists alone on this album, straight
legendary. Plus these are genres that black people influenced and created. It represents the roots. Its music for the inner peace, about current events, made to make you FEEL. And in my opinion, inner peace matched with powerful words make beauty. The topics on this album were very clear. This album is very political, it includes topics on.. wait i can’t say topics because these weren’t topics, these tracks were more like scenes.. scenes about skin tone, complexion, the urban settings, racism, social acceptance, self relfection, money, influence, and conflicts amongst our people and you can go on and on. He is using his power to generate knowledge amongst the people and is using his tools for better use. Coming from another Kendrick Lamar fan, “He’s not gonna get love from one track minded people and he understood that and for him to take a risk and eliminate them from his targeted audience is genius” (@god.qualities_) Yo, he put up his rep to show his fans something different and i agree with that one hundred percent. Smart Move.
But Sidebar, this gives me Erykah Badu meets Pac and Em with Outkast and Spike-Lee vibes but Kendrick is as unique as they come with a flow, lyricism, substance, deliver and technique that cannot be duplicated. This is an album you close your eyes too and motivate yourself to practice self-love self-sufficiency and activism. It’s a message and an influence.
Sidebar Part 2 : He finally introduced us to LUCY (Lucifer) aka the evil influence to power of fame.
” i remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence…”
That recurring theme kept happening that he kept feeding us more and more of the sentence and i didn’t question it just kept listening looking for answers.
My favorite song on this album is “Momma” At first i fell in love with the background music, the old slow jazz samples, the melodies and whole vibe because paints a small movie in your mind. You legit feel like you’re standing right next to Kendrick and as you vision the story-line it feels very antique. It automatically makes u want to light a candle or incense and walk around barefoot in your natural state. Its sultry and relevant. But, what got me was the reflection of self in this song, Kendrick reflects on what he knows now, what he knew back then and what he still needs to improve on. . . second favorite song, “u”, MY NIGGA, the intensity of his depression and choked up words had me choked up. Getting a person like ME to emphasize with someone who cries, its very hard and my eyes teared up and i got chills down my spine. Heart was felt on that track, expression appreciated.
The album came full circle like a movie when the a recurring flashback finally got explained with when the recurring skit ended the album with a shocking appearance of Tupac Shakur. Mind blowing shocker to say the least. I paused and stopped everything i was doing because I felt Tupac through my phone and im like how can i question this when i know for a fact that man is no longer with us? Kendrick began by sharing with Tupac a small spoken word poem he had written and shared with us in bits throughout the album and Tupac responded and he then asked him questions he always wanted to know. It has a very the teacher and pupil vibe, the mentor to mentee. This was a great conversation and exchange of energy and perspectives on both parts. Alive or not, edited or not this message was loud and clear. Then at the end when Pac stops responding to him and he calls out his name repeatedly, heart stopping.
Definitely is gonna go down in the immortal album classics best of all time one day in my opinion. We know Kendrick and we know what he is capable of, this basically broadened his capabilities and proved that he can do ANYTHING. This is a piece/peace of avant-garde ART to go down in the musical gallery. If To Pimp a Butterfly does not get a Grammy, I quit. Na man, fuck the stats and fuck the Grammy’s i take that back. That shit don’t mean shit.