By Ellie Muraca
March 24th, 2015
The original release date was March 23rd. The album title and artwork was released on March 11th. But something unexpected happened on March 15th.
Kendrick Lamar released To Pimp a Butterfly on iTunes, eight days before its planned debut.
Breaking a new global record for streaming, Kendrick’s new album streamed 9.6 million times on the first day it was released. Acclaimed music review website Pitchfork gave the album an impressive score of 9.8.
One of the most anticipated albums of 2015, this is Kendrick’s newest album since the release of Good Kid, m.A.A.d City three years ago. The album was produced in-house, meaning that Kendrick worked with a variety of producers such as Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Sounwave, Terrace Martin, and Drake’s producer Boi-1da.
The album features a rhythmic blend of jazzy synths and classic reggae-funk, Kendrick’s signature sound. His influence of 70’s and 80’s soul is apparent through the rich baselines and rhythms. The title To Pimp a Butterfly exemplifies the idea of success; butterflies start off wrapped up in tight cocoons, unable to experience the world, but then transform into flourishing insects the moment they break free from their restraints.
Each track tackles complex topics such as alcoholism, drug abuse, lust, and the negative effects of power. “I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence, I guess I did the same” is a repeated line through the album. This simple but powerful statement captures the chaotic essence of everyday life: full of mistakes and lessons learned.
The opening track Wesley’s Theory discusses the hidden consequences of fame. Dr. Dre makes a debut in the song, stating “Remember the first time you came out to the house? You said you wanted a spot like mine. But remember, anybody can get it. The hard part is keeping it.” With Kendrick’s explosive fame, he seems to be the most equipped to discuss the baggage of success.
On a much grander scale, the album portrays the warped subjectivity of the American Dream, describing the lives of the famous, the impoverished, and the minorities of American society. “Straight from the bottom, this the belly of the beast. From a peasant to a prince to a motherf***** king” Kendrick says in the track King Kunta, one of the most funk-enriched tracks on the album.
Proving itself to be one of the most complex albums of the year (and a new classic in the world of rap), hundreds of rap fanatics have written evaluations on To Pimp a Butterfly. To read intricate song-by-song evaluations, check out the links below.