After the release of his first two albums “Section 80” and “Good Kid M.A.A.D City,” Kendrick Lamar has solidified his name as the next big rap star. Even then there were already comparisons to rap legends Tupac, Biggie smalls, Jay-Z, Nas and Lupe Fiasco, among others.
When Kendrick announced his album “To Pimp a Butterfly” would be released on March, 15 2015, many people had no clue what to expect due to the fact that both of his previous albums had been so different than one another.
“Section 80” had light tone and soft beats, following the story of two girls growing up in the projects. “Good Kid M.A.A.D. City” had more upbeat and bumping beats and when listened from start to finish felt like you were listening to a movie of Kendrick’s life growing up in Compton California. While fans didn’t know what kind of sound they were going to get from Kendrick this time around they knew for sure they were going to get clever rhymes and Kendrick would not be afraid to say about any issue what other rappers don’t even want to talk about.
Starting the album off with “Wesley’s Theory” Kendrick really set the tone for the album. The first verse has Kendrick rapping in the perspective of a new rapper planning all the stereotypical things he will do with his new found rap money. Next, Kendrick raps in the perspective of capitalistic America or ‘Uncle Sam,’ and how these figures take advantage of the same mentality.
The beat produced by Flying Lotus is clearly inspired by some old throwback instrumentals from rap’s golden age.
The next track is an interlude when Kendrick shows us how it would be if men treated females the way females treated men. The track “King Kunta” is the first time we hear a bumping beat with a nice jazz funk taste to it produced by sounwave and Terrance Martin. The name is referring to Kunta Kinte with that Kendricks comparing how rappers and celebrities in general look as though they are kings but really they are slaves to the media and consumerism.
Consumerism and black celebrities being taken advantage of in a very common theme in songs such as “Alright,” “For sale”, and “how much a dollar cost.”
Kendrick wraps up the album in a really peculiar way with an interview of the late Tupac Shakur. Showing how even though Tupac is not around today he had already warned us in an interview from 1998 of the troubles we are facing today. Overall “To Pimp a Butterfly” is very complex album with multiple levels wrapped up in funk that you will want to listen to over and over again to catch all the little hidden messages Kendrick has left for us.