To Pimp A Butterfly Reviews

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Seth Dewonne

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  • Jon Goode "Goode Stuff" 3 years ago
    91 of 97 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Kendrick emerges from cocoon with butterfly., March 16, 2015
    By 
    Jon Goode “Goode Stuff” (Atlanta, GA) –

    IMHO: To Pimp A Butterfly: Kendrick Lamar

    To Pimp A Butterfly is the crossroads where The Chronic’s funk meets It Takes a Nation of Millions’ consciousness. It’s the intersection where Detroit Red in a zoot suit crashes head long into the words of Malcolm X on a busy Harlem street corner. It’s the boom boom room where Tupac’s ability to spin yarns and manufacture emotions, and Biggie’s larger than life confidence and persona have a menage-a-trios with the sublime and technical lyricism of Eminem. To Pimp a Butterfly is an epic poem, an album for the ages and well worth your ear and dollar.

    In today’s world commercial hip hop is the bulk of what the masses are exposed to. The Mantra of get money, pimp hoes, shake that @ss, swing from poles, party hard and die young seems to echo through the hollow bars of the songs served up daily by today’s radio rapper du jour; and the kids eat it up. It’s rare that a hip-hop artist is today able to achieve mainstream success, be respected by “hip hop purists,” relate to the youth and create meaningful albums filled with content that challenges the listener’s thoughts, questions their actions and pushes them toward a better alternative. Kendrick Lamar has done exactly that and it’s no anomaly for K. Dot.

    I initially heard the buzz surrounding Kendrick Lamar with the release of his C4 mixtape. I was first actually introduced to his music with the album/mixtape Overly Dedicated. I listened to H.O.C, Night of the Living Junkies and Growing Apart on O.D. and thought, this guy is onto something. The entire album was an interesting mixture of the devil may care with heaven can’t wait. Later the Section.80 album/mixtape would drop as would my jaw after the first listen. I thought to myself then, that’s probably as good as it’s going to get with this guy; he just peaked on a mixtape, too bad. Shortly after Section.80’s release Good Kid M.A.A.D City was announced. Good Kid boasted Dr. Dre as its producer and promised guest spots from a whose who of hip hop royalty . I picked it up the day it dropped, put in my earbuds and couldn’t believe that Kendrick had gotten better as an MC and even more clever and poignant as a song writer. Kendrick had learned the art of preaching without sounding preachy; of teaching you a lesson without you even realizing you were in class. Good Kid M.A.A.D City was probably the best Hip Hop concept album I’d heard since Andre 3000’s The Love Below. I encouraged any and everyone who picked it up to listen to it from top to bottom without skipping a track. I told them to take in the totality of the album because what Kendrick had created wasn’t a collection of singles but one complete and fully realized idea split into 11 (15 if you got the deluxe edition) well crafted tracks.

    Kendrick emerges from his cocoon three years after Good Kid with To Pimp A Butterfly and we find him once again pushing minds and boundaries. This time instead of offering you one complete story dispersed across 11 tracks he gives you one epic poem spread across 16 songs. The album touches on self love, self actualization, race, religion, politics, community building and community accountability with a myriad of other diverse and necessary subjects all dancing in between. There is a heaping helping of black nationalist consciousness weaving its way through the album but it’s dressed in its Sunday’s best and smiling wide so as not to scare the casual listener. The lyrics are complex but not so complex that they aren’t readily accessible and digestible. Kendrick never uses a sesquipedalian word where he can use an infinitesimal one. The production is funk and jazz heavy with a little bit of rock and soul interspersed for good measure. The guest spots are as on his previous albums kept to a minimum with Thundercat, Ron Isley, George Clinton, Bilal, Anna Wise and even Snoop Dogg lending their voices to hooks, skits and chants and only North Carolina female MC Rapsody really trades bars with Kendrick. The insight, call to action and conversations (especially the final one) encapsulated within the lines of this album are not to be missed. I personally don’t think I heard a better hip hop album than Good Kid M.A.A.D. City in 2012 and doubt seriously if hip hop will produce anything better than To Pimp A Butterfly in 2015. #IMHO

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  • Bryan Hamilton 3 years ago
    30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    … and strongly made the case for being considered the greatest of our generation, March 17, 2015
    By 

    This review is from: To Pimp A Butterfly (Audio CD)
    Kendrick Lamar just dropped an instant classic and strongly made the case for being considered the greatest of our generation. This album is so unlike anything he has ever released before; yet, this is the Kendrick we all expected to hear. Kendrick spits relentlessly, packing dense rhymes and lyricism and firing them with an aggressive machine gun flow. You can not only hear his despair and confusion, but you can feel it too. The production on this album is absolutely timeless. Trippy experimental funk beats give this album a vintage, yet modern feel. Providing a contrast, think, a more mellow undertone, to take the edge off of his aggressive and self deprecating lyrics. This man transcends rap. He is a poet, the voice of our generation. He discusses topics no other rapper has the balls to talk about. Depression, self loathing, personal growth and acceptance. His message of change and breaking the status quo mirror that of Tupac and Bob Marley. Actually, forget what I said. Kendrick isnt the west coast Nas, the next Pac. He is himself, a rapper who is very quickly thrusting himself into the game’s elite, and onto the fore front of spreading positive social change and discussion through the perfection of music.

    Five mics. Instant classic. And another thing, the album version of i is the version of i we have been waiting for. Kendrick trolled all of us with the radio edit. I guess he didn’t want us to fully grasp the full essence of the album ;).

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  • Mark K. 3 years ago
    36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Pinnacle of Modern, Socially Conscious Hip-hop, March 16, 2015
    By 
    Mark K. (Boston, MA, USA) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: To Pimp A Butterfly (Audio CD)
    I am going to try to write a review here that is hype-minimal, even given my title is a bit strong. I know lots have been waiting for this album, as have I, and I want to put out something here that has some substance.

    It is rare that I am moved a great deal by a modern hip-hop album. We are far-removed from genre-shaping classics like “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” and “The Low End Theory”. Upon hearing Kendrick’s 2012 classic GKMC, I had renewed faith in the concept album in hip-hop, and after his “Control” verse, I was happy to see hip-hop’s response to the challenge; specifically I think albums like “Cadillactica” last year, which for Big K.R.I.T. was quite a bit deeper than his debut “Live from the Underground”, were developed with such precision and dedication to the craft *because* of the “Control” situation. I thought Lamar was almost certainly headed for a sophomore disappointment, solely for the reason that his major-label debut studio album was so intelligent, and captured his entire adolescence on wax. I thought, “what else will he have to draw on? Where will he find the fire?” I was thinking that this would be a “Reasonable Doubt”-“In My Lifetime, Vol 1” situation. Today, after hearing this album, I stand corrected, and am moved by what I heard.

    The central theme is Kendrick’s take on the escalating racial tensions in the US resulting from institutional racism, and seemingly “takes place” in the 2+ years since the release of his first album, as there are several references to Lamar going through a post-GKMC depression on the album. With respect to institutional racism, Lamar discusses the multi-faceted emotional response to these escalating racial tensions; at some points the rapper is celebratory of his blackness, at others he is angry at the institution, and yet at others he is critical of the state of black culture and cries for change and self-empowerment. All the while Kendrick is also mapping out his personal emotional struggles since the release of GKMC and parallels these with the collective black culture, culminating in the powerful indictment “The Blacker the Berry”. In this song Kendrick rasps out a lyrical assault on the institution, celebrating blackness unapologetically. The song describes a man who loves his blackness so much he desires to be more black, or to be perceived more black, to be perceived as the epitome of black culture. The crescendoes to a somber ending, citing the irony that such a strong stance may result in, explicitly naming black-on-black crime. The album then turns to its denouement, reinforcing the hypothesis that it’s not about how you are perceived, not about the persona you put off (“You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said)”); it’s about self-respect, self-love, and the album narrative effectively ends on the album’s premier single, with “Mortal Man” serving as a coda. Kendrick ties the underlying themes of self-doubt, naïvete, respect, self-pity, jealousy, perceived success and failure, and love from his own struggles and establishes a connection between these emotions and the black culture collective. The album is brilliant in its paradoxes, in its emotion, in his depiction of his life. Its blatant disregard of hip-hop’s formula for success is its thesis: don’t be number, don’t fit in, you ain’t gotta lie; be yourself, love yourself, empower yourself, and that is indeed beautiful.

    On top of all that, Kendrick’s lyricism is absolutely insane on this album. I was a huge fan of Logic’s “Under Pressure” last year, and thought lyrically that was perhaps a little better than GKMC, but that the album was a little too personal to be quite as good as GKMC. To Pimp a Butterfly took it to another level. “Momma” and “Hood Politics” to me stood out as just lyrical masterpieces. The production is very funk-heavy, obviously well-done considering the production team at TDE and the guest producers on this project. I’m not sure where this sits with the classics, only time will tell, but on my first listen through I feel that the moniker “King Kendrick” is definitely fitting. He has done it again.

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