March 17, 2015

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)


If you were looking for an album like the single i you'll be disappointed (luckily). But if you were expecting an album to the tone of Blacker the Berry you won't get exactly what you expect either. Don't worry, Kendrick hasn't sold out, but sadly I still think he's naive about the subject of racism, as evidenced by his recent comments putting responsibility on the black community. This likely has something to do with Kendrick's popularity. good kid doesn't really attack the white status quo, which makes it far more comfortable for white people to listen to. While people were rightly perplexed by the grammy pick of Macklemore's The Heist over gkmc, noone pointed out that 1999, Sorry to Bother You, and BMW were likewise worthy contenders. While this album certainly confronts the issue of institutionalized racism more directly, there still is a sense of shared blame with the black community which doesn't sit right.

That's what makes this album interesting however. Kendrick isn't telling anyone what to think. This album seems to document his thought process, his inner debate about racism, the hood mentality, and even his music's effects. I don't think the album is as well put together as good kid, but this hodge-podge method fits the feel of the songs too. Most of them achieve a kind of psychedelic rap sound, with disorienting beats swirling around and kendrick's verses likewise circling themselves without any clear direction. This may sound like a return towards section,80 and OD, but it isn't, more reminiscent of the single Cartoons and Cereal than anything else. Blacker the Berry remains my favorite song off the album so far, with its dark energy capturing the essence of this album. i kind of interrupts the sound of the album, and is definitely my least favorite, but it works far better within the album than as a single. In the last track the way Kendrick works the Pac interview in is creative, and more Pac can never hurt an album. I think I prefer this slightly to his debut, but regardless he's certainly escaped the sophomore curse  and managed to keep from selling out.

Sample

To Pimp a Butterfly