MITMondays: A Look Back at To Pimp A Butterfly
As I began to jot down some ideas for this week’s edition of MITMondays, I checked my calendar and noticed a special date was swiftly approaching. March 15th is that day. To many it’s just a regular date but for some it reminder of the day Kendrick Lamar solidified his legacy in Hip-Hop. On that day in 2015, Kendrick drop is third album entitled To Pimp A Butterfly. This album is just in a lane of its own, covering the struggles endured during Kendrick’s rise to fame and the struggles faced by those in the black community. So today we’re going to take a look back at what made this album so dope.
To Pimp A Butterfly is more than just an album; it’s an experience if we’re being honest. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that keeps you on edge with all its twists and turns. I’ll never forget my first time listening to this album, I was left in awe. One of the things that stood out to me at first was the production. This helps enhance that rollercoaster feel I mentioned earlier. Kendrick starts the album of with a groovy funk vibe. Calling on the legendary George Clinton in the intro to help lay the foundation and that vibe carried one for a few tracks. Not only does Kendrick bring the funk, but he also gave us some jazz. With the help of Terrance Martin’s saxophone and the presence of Bilal we see a smoother side of Kendrick while still lacing us with the bars. Lastly, Kendrick brings it back to rap with hard gritty beats on Blacker The Berry and Hood Politics. Even though the production on this album was A1 the content of this album was even better.
One could go on for days talking about what Kendrick said in this album but to keep this column from turning into a novel I’m only going to hit some of the main points. From the jump Kendrick gave us bars, dropping knowledge on how we learned everything but how to manage money in school. He highlights the struggles of Wesley Snipes but those struggles could be applied to many people of color’s downfall from athletes, musicians, to businessmen. Kendrick also informs us that you don’t have to be in the prison system to become institutionalized. Many people in the hood get so caught up in the daily routine that the hood provides they don’t seek to leave their comfort zone making it easy to get trapped inside these walls. In the song “u” Kendrick addresses mental health and stability. The pressures of balancing his new found success and the struggles of looking out for those back home were taking a toll on him pushing him toward attempting suicide. What’s so dope is that the very next song, he reminds us that as along as God is in control “We Gon Be Alright.” On Hood Politics we get an interesting comparison. Kendrick equates democrats and republicans beefing like crips and bloods i.e. Demo-Crips and Re-Blood-icans. While doing that he reminisces back to when Control dropped and shook up the game. Kendrick also reminds us about the importance of self love on I, which stood out because it was live recording interrupted by a fight then KDot proceeds to drop some knowledge on self worth. Lastly, we get an intimate interview with Tupac that shows us that even though times have changed we still face the same problems.
To Pimp A Butterfly was as close to a perfect album as you can get. What I loved about this album is that it separated itself from most because it challenges you. It challenges you to think and self-evaluate. I also love how all the topics Kendrick touched throughout the album are intertwined by a poem. As you get deeper in the album he adds more to the poem going over what just happened and foreshadowing what is soon to come. Then at the end he reads the poem in its entirety to Tupac. You got to love anything that stimulates your mind and that's exactly what this album did for me. So as we approach March 15th take some time to sit back and revisit this masterpiece. To Pimp A Butterfly was definitely here for the culture and I can't wait to see what Kendrick has up is sleeves for his next project. As always…