Just a few months ago this album's first single "i" received a lot of mixed feelings. The "Who's That Lady" sample and "I Love Myself" chant make up a funky upbeat positive record, which some people(including myself) just could not get hip to. A few weeks ago he released "The Blacker the Berry" which received harsh criticism as Kendrick refers to himself as a "hypocrite" for taking part in gang activity and killing other Blacks, as if that is suppose excuse racist acts against us. This made me quite reluctant in listening to the new album but upon it's release, and all the buzz, I had to add this to my library and give it my ears.
This album is a funky, prophetic, and an unprecedented peek into Kendrick's mind; as well as an opportunity to evaluate one's self. It is not about Kendrick more than it is about all of us. Kendrick did this for the kids, for Black people everywhere, for young Black men everywhere. I don't sense a change as an artist but progression. Standout tracks include the intro "Wesley's Theory" a look at America's capitalism and Black people in debt(like Wesley Snipes), "King Kunta", "Alright", and "Complexion". If I was to rate those tracks a 5, then every other song on this album is a 4/4.5. It is a solid body of work. "i" makes so much more sense while listening to "To Pimp A Butterfly" in it's entirety, especially as a first single. This album is everything Kendrick was reaching for on tracks like "The Heart pt. 2", "HiiiPower", "Sing About Me", etc. It is everything we love about Kendrick, he constantly raises the bar.
SPOILER ALERTIf you haven't listened to this entire this project, straight through, in one sitting; I'll just assume you are incredibly busy and haven't had the time yet. But anyway, lets get into this final track. "Mortal Man". "Mortal Man" challenges exactly what the title states as Kendrick sings "When shit hits the fan will you still be a fan?". On this track he references Michael Jackson and all of the controversy that followed that man stating "He gave us Billie Jean, you still think he touched those kids?". The end of this song is the cherry on top, an interview between Kendrick Lamar and Tupac Shakur, a conversation rather. The Tupac soundbites were flawlessly sampled and spliced with questions/responses from Kendrick. This jaw-dropping, eye opening, tear jerking conversation is the perfect close to this project. (More info HERE)
Now, with all that said here comes the big BUT. I don't particularly favor this album. I get it, and I am appreciative but I don't love it. It doesn't have the effect on me that good kid m.A.A.d City did, but maybe it isn't supposed to. Maybe this album just lacks the car bumping, brainwashing repetition and sophisticated ignorance we all flock to so often. This album is social commentary, this album is Black Love.
#ToPimpAButterfly is for us and it is necessary.