To Pimp a Butterfly is Californian hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar’s second album.
The Good: To Pimp a Butterfly is less instantly catchy than its predecessor, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, but makes up for this in its depth. Lamar takes on issues like politics, sex, race, religion, money, love, and fame and blends them together into a compelling picture of what his life has been like since the massive success of Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. This is an album that academics could write books on and Lamar seems to be aiming for that. He is at the top of his game here though, and everything, from the jazzy beats, lyrics, guest spots, and bits of spoken word interspersed throughout feel sharp and cohesive. There is one point near the end of the album, where things seem so bleak and Lamar sounds almost defeated by his demons when “i” comes on and Lamar shouts “I love myself” for the first time washing away all of the anxiety and anguish that had been building up over the album. It is one of my favorite musical moments in a long time. Overall, To Pimp a Butterfly will probably be the best hip hop album of 2015 if not the best overall.
The Bad: This isn’t really a criticism, but To Pimp a Butterfly is a challenging album, both emotionally and intellectually. If it weren’t for the strategic placement of “I” near the end of the album it would be a thoroughly dark and depressing experience. You really want to be in the right mood to listen to this album: probably somewhat introspective and open minded.
Would I Listen Again: Yes, it is in many ways a masterpiece.