“To Pimp a Butterfly” is Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album, and one of the greatest albums of our time. The album is meticulously crafted, with Kendrick Lamar topping critics’ “best of the year” lists all through 2015. This artistic work focuses solely on the times and story of its time. It includes hot of the press topics such as self-indulgence, social injustices, as well as social media. The reason why this masterpiece should be looked into is that it did not win only critic awards, but it left people talking and thinking deeply about the society. Kendrick Lamar produced an album so potent that it surpassed usual notes of attracting the mass audience and producing for commercial purposes. It is a big deal that this never actually happens anymore, but with “To Pimp a butterfly”, Kendrick Lamar hit the right notes.
The main reason I chose this particular Album was that “To Pimp a Butterfly” is a celebration of excellent music and storytelling. Also, Kendrick proves to the world that he is not here just for the fame, but also to prod humans to think about the society today. Moreover, Lamar is lyrically dexterous and sounds like an artist who is at the top of his game. He is musically ambitious and skilled, just enough to have the world look deeply into music and mainly hip-hop as a tool to educate the youth. While it’s knotty to cast Lamar as the savior for hip-hop, it’s equally unequivocal he cannot be dismissed. Kendrick Lamar is the hope that most youths and the hip-hop scene have craved for long.[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
Terry (2015) writes that “To Pimp a Butterfly” is a 79-minute follow-up album to 2012’s “good kid, m.A.A.d city” which had a profound narrative best described as a masterpiece. Before that was the uneven and not so strong debut album, “Section. 80” in 2011. Of all his works, “To Pimp a Butterfly” has stood out and as expected, garnered more critical acclaim and nine Grammy nominations. Rolling Stone named it the album of the year and described the record as “musically, lyrically and emotionally a one one-of-a-kind masterpiece” (Rolling Stone, 2015, para. 20). The independent music hub, Pitchfork went further to describe it as “not just the album of the year; it is the voice of a moment in time” and Kendrick Lamar as the greatest rapper of his generation (Pitchfork, n.d., para. 30).[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Terry (2015) further notes that the record was released in March 2015 at a time when two very successive and public waves of police and vigilante brutalities of supposedly unarmed African Americans was reported. From Chicago to Cleveland, tragic deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, led to a surge of protest and riot. These waves form the basis for Kendrick Lamar’s well-written album. His album continues the conversation started in 1970 by Toni Morrison, the author of the “Bluest Eye”, one of the most compelling novels about racism critic’s white supremacy. Kendrick Lamar uses the context of “black is a beautiful cultural movement” to point out the vices of racism.
As Tate (2015) writes, “To Pimp a Butterfly” has many important themes which overlap each other. One of the most outspoken themes is fame and its temptations. It starts out with Kendrick fantasizing about fame and fortune. The temptations of fame are personified in LUCY (Lucifer), where he tackles concerns like violence, US race issues, and slavery (Kinta). Another major theme in this record is contradiction. Kendrick touches on the clash of his two environments, which are fame and living it up and being back to the hood where crime and gangs are a way of life. Similarly, political consciousness is a major theme as Kendrick discusses police violence as well as black on black violence during gang wars. There is also the mention of alienation and depression which arises from fame. Kendrick, in a very economical way, indicates how artists find themselves in hotel rooms in circumstances with few resolutions that lead up to depression.
What makes “To Pimp a Butterfly” more outstanding is its lustrous lyrics. The album is a musical landmark and above all, it is a rich body of work all round. The storyline is straightforward and evidently more poetic than any other of Lamar’s previous works. The plot basically examines Lamar’s struggle, triumph, and emotion while as a caterpillar and the butterfly. The interwoven script of this album makes it one of the best pieces of art of this generation. He uses different stylistic devices to bring forth his message which includes metaphors and personification. The caterpillar and the butterfly both represent his journey through various times of the struggle. Metaphorical statements are made at every turn in Lamar’s attempt to provoke thoughts about black lives matter as well as his relationship with Lucy (Tate, 2015).
It is worth noting that its dense lyricism is an extraordinary epic of afro-futuristic poetry. “To Pimp a Butterfly” is committed to the “relentless exploration of its core philosophical problem” (Terry, 2015, para. 13). It is set on a luscious soundscape of avant-garde music belonging to black Americans. It is an intimate interrogation of the possibility of the crisis of faith, value, and identity that often crowd the minds of all striving black Americans. His spoken word delivery, paired with freewheeling piano accompanied by jazzy composition are just what makes this album the album of all time. In addition to the epic instrumentals, its musicality was completed by the wide variety of jazzy grooves, Hip-hop, soul, and funk (“Metacritic: To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar,” 2015).
The album ends in a gesture where Lamar asks his listeners to possibly self-interrogate and self-criticize. He suggests that the fabric of fighting for equal rights as blacks cannot be contorted in a way that it does not apply in situations that involve two black people. In the same strength, he urges himself and us to stop being hypocritical.
In this analysis, it is imperative to note that strong and conscious music is an important tool in self-education and assessment. The moral fabric of a nation is based on assessing self as well as community without necessarily passing judgment. “To Pimp a Butterfly” is a literary milestone, one that will always have a place in the minds of people.
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Metacritic: To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. (2015).
Petridis, A. (2015, December 18). Best albums of 2015: No 1 – To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. The Guardian.
Pitchfork. (n.d.). The 50 Best Albums of 2015 – Page 5. Retrieved from Tate, G. (2015, March 19). Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” Album Review. Rolling Stone.
Terry, B. (2015). [Liner Notes]. In To Pimp a Butterfly [CD]. Santa Monica:
Rolling Stone. (2015). 50 Best Albums of 2015.