To Pimp A Butterfly was the perfect album for me to hear to get into rap music. Not only is it musically intriguing but it has a powerful message. I am very interested in political music and here is an entire album about socio-economic classes and how to cope with success when the memory of being poor and forgotten is so painfully fresh and, most importantly, still happening all over the country.
I’m a sucker for a theme and Kendrick Lamar has put together a thematic album in a way that is intelligent and emotionally powerful. Kendrick takes us from trading vocals with George Clinton about Wesley Snipes, (yes this happened) to the insanely catchy King Kunta to angry drunken rants all the while quieting everything down every so often to speak into the the silence.
"I remember you was conflicted,
misusing your influence,
sometimes I did the same."
The album is not without light hearted moments but it gradually loses any casual aspect as it progresses and you hear more of his poem. One of the most important parts of the album is on the 2nd to last track I when the song is interrupted. You're transported to a concert and the song is cut off by a fight. While you find yourself enjoying the beat to a song with the refrain "I went to war last night" you hear a fight and you're reminded of the grim reality that Kendrick is addressing.
As the horns fade on the groovy yet emotional last track Mortal Man Kendrick finishes his poem and reveals the person to whom this album has been directed. Kendrick reminds us how the issues he's been rallying against throughout the album are nothing new. In a throwback interview clip Kendrick talks to his old hero Tupac who leaves us with one of the most haunting images on an album full of hard truths delivered with endless sophistication from Kendrick himself.
"In this country a black man only have like 5 years we can exhibit maximum strength and that's right now while you a teenager, while you still strong or while you still wanna lift weights, while you still wanna shoot back. Cause once you turn 30 it's like they take the heart and soul out of a man out of a black man in this country. And you don't wanna don't fight no more. And if you don't believe me you can look around, you don't see no loud mouth 30 year old muthafuckas."
Even if you don't consider yourself a fan of rap I would highly recommend you check this album out. It's catchy as hell, you hear some great different genres and it really makes you think.