In hip hop, following an critically acclaimed debut album is never easy. In 2012 Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut “Good Kidd Madd City” was recognized as an instant classic. Not because of the hype of him being Dre’s new protege, but because the album was a perfect introduction for Kendrick into a new world, it told his story. It was a story that about a good kid growing up in a chaotic place trying to achieve his dreams and make it out. It was gonna be tough to follow up such an monumental album. Kendrick has already made claims of being rap’s king and called out most of his peers on the scathing Control Verse a year ago. The pressure was on Kendrick to silence critics and prove that he can back up the fly shit that he was spitting. So does To Pimp a Butterfly live up to the anticipation? The answer is YES!
To Pimp A Butterfly is a continuation of Kendrick’s life story from GKMC. He’s made it out of the ghetto, signed with one of the games biggest labels and now a household name. But the deeper he gets into the game, he recognizes that all tof the glamour isn’t gold. Following the fact that even though he’s made it, he still see his people being victimized in the streets through police brutality and exploitation via capitalism. The direction of To Pimp a Butterfly strays away from the typical format of a hip hop album. Kendrick experimented with different sounds ranging from funk, jazz, neo-soul and complementary.
The album’s opening track titled Wesley’ s Theory is the appropriate opener because he sets off the theme of Kendrick’s album. The first verse has Kendrick rapping from the prospective of an rapper whom finally made it. Wesley’s Theory describes how many Black Entertainers are products of capitalism and uses Wesley Snipes tax trouble as a perfect example.
For Free follows the concept of Wesley’s Theory. Kendrick jumps out of his comfort zone and delivers a great mixture of brash spoken word mixed with Jazzy Rhythms. Kendrick uses the slam poetry spoken word style to break down exploitation(Which is the main theme of this album). It would surely throw off alot of fans whom are expecting the typical within hip hop.
This offering from Kendrick comes across as very personal. It may be possibly his most personal work to date. There’s not gonna be any songs thats gonna surely get alot of heavy club rotation other than King Kunta which is braggerious of his status as King of the rap game. King Kunta pays homage to DJ Quiks P funk sound and Suga Free’s whispers cool flow. The album’s main single I love myself was the sign of Kendrick going out of his lane. It has a feel good vibe and uplifting message about blacks re elevating their self worth.
The rest of the album goes into the mind-frame of a young black male whom is struggling in between two worlds. He’s adapting to a new way of life but is also aware of his surroundings and at times feel trapped. He expresses and encourages hope on “Alright” which is a outcry for folks whom are battling injustice. He reveals the D-Evils within the music business on Lucy which is metaphorically simlar to Eminem’s My Daring and DMX’s Damien.
The album’s best track The Blacker the Berry has Kendrick rhyming from the opposite of his “I love myself” track and tackles the root of racial injustice from a conscious standpoint. He offers three different mindset within three different verses. The first showcasing his disdain for the treatment of blacks current condition, the second being explaining the condition and the final one calling out the hypocrisy of black’s being silent about addressing black on black crime.
Kendrick’s latest offering is surely gonna go over many people’s heads. Creatively its a mixed bag of tracks and sounds. Its not gonna be a album for the clubs or the whips but for anybody that wants to sit there and hear a story because the album flows together cohesively. He definitely lived up to the hype and showed why he’s one of this generations best artist. Definitely worth picking up.
Vic Rating: 10 outta 10