Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly”
On March 16th 2015 Kendrick Lamar released his third studio album “To Pimp a Butterfly” under Top Dawg Entertainment and Aftermath Entertainment, distributed by Interscope Records. The album stands in the shadows of his second album “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” which went platinum. The new album fuses hip-hop, funk, jazz, and spoken word. The title is a play on Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Kendrick said the original title was “To Pimp a Caterpillar” which fans caught onto very quickly that it was a homage to TuPac so Kendrick changed it to Butterfly. There have been three singles released, the first being “I”.
“I” youtube embedded
“I” was produced by Rahki who also helped with production on “Institutionalized”. The Isley Brothers “That lady” was sampled in the song, and Kendrick even traveled to St. Louis to meet lead vocalists Ronald Isley where he personally asked him for permission. Together they worked in the studio on the big hit and Isley also performs on “Hom Much a Dollar Cost” with singer songwriter James Fauntleroy.
The albums second single “The Blacker the Berry” was released on February 9th and features Assassins. The song was produced by Boi-1da, KOZ, Martin and Katalyst.
The third single to drop was “King Kunta” filmed rolling around in Compton, California with production being done by Sounwave and Martin. The song focuses on a history on negative stereotypes that all African-Americans deal with and to reclaim one’s history as a King and not a slave. He also reveals in the song that he got his name out by ghostwriting, but doesn’t recommend it and encourages artists to stand up behind their own music.
The idea for the album was visualized by Kendrick while on the Yeezus tour and it took 3 years to record the entire album in a number of studios including Chalice Recording Studios, Downtown Studios, House Studios, Notifi Studios, and No Excuses Studios. Flying Lotus was sitting on a number of demos and tracks for his upcoming project “Captain Murphy” but after Kendrick heard them he had to have them all. “Wesley’s Theory” is a song about how no one teaches poor black males how to manage celebrity and money. If you didn’t know Wesley Snipes was thrown in jail for tax evasion. On “Complexion” Pete Rock said he played a different role as Kendrick used him for backup vocals and scratches and he didn’t produce any of the song. Anna Wise & Bilal appears on two songs “Institutionalized” and “These Walls” which are back to back tracks on the album. “Institutionalized” also features and Snoop Dogg, and “These Walls” features Thundercat. Bilal was also used for backup vocals on “u”, “For Sale? (Interlude), “Momma and “Hood Politics”.
The messages and lessons are buried deep throughout the album and it may take patience and many listens for the average consumer to unravel them. Being a lazy listener and moving on after a once over will surely lead to missing the emotional depth of the album. The album begins and ends with imaginary interview/ conversations with Dr. Dre and Tupac. Kendrick described the album by saying it is “honest, fearful and unapologetic”.
Metacritic gives ratings up to 100 and gave “To Pimp a Butterfly” an average score of 96 which equates to “Universal Acclaim”. The album has been described by Pitchfork Media’s Craig Jenkins who gave the album a 9.3 out of 10 rating as “ A celebration of the audacity to wake up each morning and try to be better, knowing it could all end in a second, for no reason at all”. Rolling Stone’s editor said the album was” A masterpiece of fiery outrage, deep jazz and ruthless self-critique”. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart its opening week w/ 360K units sold and did 123K the second week. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest rating I would give the album a 4.5 as it will take many listens to fully dig into the meaning of the album.
Click HERE to Download the album from Itunes
Johnny V 4/9/15
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