On March 16th, rapper Kendrick Lamar released his first album in almost two years. “To Pimp A Butterfly” (TPAB), is a deep, thought-provoking testament that works as a reflection of the West-Coast native’s rise as a hip-hop mogul. In “TPAB,” he speaks about many controversial topics such as faith, race, the nature of poverty and the power of music.
The first three tracks of the record serve to describe his thoughts coming into the rap industry. In his opening verse of “Wesley’s Theory,” Lamar says, “When I get signed, homie I’mma act a fool. Hit the dance floor, strobe lights in the room,” Throughout these three tracks, he identifies his obsession with fame and material things and how they have gotten in the way of who he truly is as an artist and a person. As a result, he begins his spoken word poem at the end of “King Kunta” with “I remember you was conflicted. Misusing your influence.” He adds on pieces of this poem at the end of certain songs on the album until he unveils the dedication of the entire poem to hip-hop legend, Tupac Shakur, on the last track, “Mortal Man.”
In tracks four through six, Lamar identifies the many problems in the rap industry and in himself. He exposes the fact that at one point he did not understand the value of his artistry by stating, “What money got to do with it? When I don’t know the full definition of a rap image,” in his fourth track, “Institutionalized.” In a very emotional and poetic manner, the song “u” acts as a cry for help as he decides to come to terms with the many offenses that he has committed. Through all of this, Kendrick assures himself and his listeners that “If God got us, then we gon’ be alright” (from the seventh track on the album, “Alright”).
All in all, the hip-hop, jazzy feel of the production line combined with powerful and well-thought lyrics in “To Pimp A Butterfly,” is something that even a fan of country music should take a listen to. So far, “TPAB” has been well received by consumers. Many have agreed that not only is this album the most important album in over a decade, but that it is the most important rap album of all time.