Recap: To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar is the latest rapper to surprise fans with the ahead-of-schedule release of his third studio album, To Pimp a Butterfly.
The album was set to hit distribution channels on March 23, but saw a March 15 evening release. To Pimp a Buttery showcases a diverse range of sounds, with a lyrical versatility that we have come to know and expect from Lamar at this stage in his career.
Forward-thinking, with some smart risks made, Lamar composes a theatrical story, much like the album prior, good kid, m.A.A.d city. Lamar brings in some interesting and select collaborators, such as the Godfather of Funk, George Clinton, bassist Thundercat and one of Lamar’s biggest noted inspirations, Snoop Dogg himself.
Fresh off winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Lamar is keeping the momentum going, with debuting the second single, “The Blacker The Berry” the day after the Grammy nods, and has now awarded fans with the full package a week early.
From receiving high praise from Kanye West and breaking the record for streaming on Spotify with more than 9.6 million plays during its first day, Lamar is remains quiet and has kept it humble on social media following the release, tweeting “Keep calm. All is well.”
Lamar’s humble nature is one of his admirable qualities, and is one that he discusses in his latest release – the struggle of remaining humble and remembering his roots while being immersed in the madness that is his place in the spotlight in the music industry.
The album isn’t going to appeal to everyone – instead of the all-too-common handout of radio-ready bangers, the composition features a thorough complexity that hits some uncomfortable and important topics, as well as ties together jazz, funk and classic hip hop production.
Lamar’s album takes lyrical notes from those before his time, touches on race, poverty, politics and spirituality, and takes the content to a new perspective and a new level – in what can be considered a maturation granting Lamar the title of spokesperson for his generation, even more so than with his first two releases. The album isn’t an easy first listen, and requires a digestion period.
Its ambitious achievements have fans on twitter applauding the effort, with one notable reaction from musician Noah Gundersen, “I believe we are experiencing some kind of art renaissance in the mainstream, spearheaded by artists like Kendrick Lamar.”
Stand out tracks include “Institutionalized”, “Momma”, “Wesley’s Theory”, “Blacker The Berry”, “These Walls” and “u” – but it is highly recommended that the album is heard as a whole. Lamar’s album is on track to top charts as the rest of the week unfolds, and given the honesty, risk-taking and craftsmanship, it will be quite refreshing to watch the worthy success.