Kendrick Lamar Pimps the Hell Out of a Butterfly [ALBUM REVIEW]

Posted on March 19, 2015

Kendrick Lamar’s new LP, To Pimp a Butterfly, isn’t the usual rap album. Yes, there is gratuitous use of the “n-word.” And the heavy use of expletives more than earned the album’s parental advisory label. But there is an artistry there that you just can’t find on a Drake, Big Sean, or even Kanye record. With his debut, Lamar was crowned hip-hop’s savior; onTo Pimp a Butterfly he is seeking to prove that he deserves that distinction.

After being thrown praise from every corner of the rap world, Lamar was famously beat out by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for best rap album at the Grammys last year, though the general consensus was that he should have been the clear victor. That experience (and much more) clearly affected him, and now he stands a changed man with nothing and everything to prove all at once. That’s a tall order.

In many ways, Lamar is Tupac’s successor. A California kid that reps his city (Compton) to the fullest, he has straddled the line between music for the streets and more poetic, intellectual flows. Here, instead of straddling he mashes those personas together, forming a singular beautifully flawed MC. Somewhat departing from the rapid-fire, beat-by-beat delivery that put him on the map, he often chooses a complex off-beat flow instead. This album is not easy listening; it’s engaged listening.

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