Arts & Life

Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ metamorphoses the rap industry for the better

Because of its early and unexpected release, Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly” is the drop that needs to be heard around the world.

Alongside rap and vocals, Lamar’s third album “To Pimp a Butterfly” not only embodies his poetic street-style of storytelling but also embraces experimental elements of jazz, funk and spoken word.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Lamar talks about how his title was inspired by Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” which tells the story in the perspective of Scout and Jem, two children who go through the stages of childhood innocence to experiencing evil and confronting it at an adult level.

Starting off as caterpillars that eventually break out from their cocoons—or, essentially the hood—the extraordinary artists eventually grow into the bold and beautiful butterflies that unexpectedly emerge onto the scene.

Unfortunately, with the sad reality of fame comes the price of having to struggle and maintain the artist’s original beauty and work without being seen as “pimped out” or sold out.

In the very end of the album’s last song “Mortal Man,” Lamar is interviewing rapper Tupac Shakur and reads Shakur a written poem that alludes to his perception and belief on, how in the end, everyone falls victim to becoming institutionalized.

“The butterfly represents the talent, the thoughtfulness and the beauty within the caterpillar,” Lamar reads. “But having a harsh outlook on life the caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak and figures out a way to pimp it to his own benefit.”

With as much influence Lamar has on the mainstream and society, his take on “Mortal Man” only leads one to believe how ruthlessly driven he is to express himself and the message he wants people to receive.

Although it is the last and concluding song to his album, it is not the only one that really allows the listener to see Lamar’s true colors.

Lamar shouts, he screams and even cries throughout the album, which deviates from the vainglorious stereotypical image one might expect from a “rapper.”

But that’s the point.

In “The Blacker The Berry,” Lamar further expresses his social conscience and unravels the unrest that comes along with it by addressing recent political issues.

“So why did I cry when Trayvon Martin was killed in the street,” raps Lamar. “When gangbangin’ make me kill a nigga blacker than me? Hypocrite!”

He appears to show that he has no fear in owning up to his mistakes and gives the listeners the ability to image he sees in the mirror everyday through his lyrical capabilities.

Some might even call it his hard attempt at “romanticizing” politics but truly Lamar falls far away from that spectrum.

Since 2003, Lamar has been a huge part of the music industry since he was 16. Lamar started to gain more notoriety and fame once his song “Swimming Pools” hit the mainstream in 2012 from his album “good kid, m.A.A.d city.”

Like his newest album, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” showed Lamar’s ability to humbly acknowledge that he is a human being who will make mistakes. This proves evident in one of his older singles, “Bitch, Don’t Kill my Vibe.”

“I am a sinner, who’s probably gonna sin again,” Lamar says.

In “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” the song “Compton” Lamar also raps about the socioeconomic challenges that he’s overcome from living in an area notorious for being one of the ghettos in America and how it’s shaped him as an individual based on his experience.

“America target our rap market, its controversy and hate,” raps Lamar. “Harsh realities we in made our music translate.”

But unlike most rappers who went through the same struggle, “To Pimp a Butterfly” solidifies that Lamar’s grasp on the industry will be used to educate and encourage his listeners through one of the purest form of self expression: rap.

ALBUM: “To Pimp a Butterfly”

LABEL: Top Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope Entertainment


RATING: 4.5/5

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