‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ expands Kendrick Lamar’s craft
In “To Pimp A Butterfly,” Kendrick Lamar shows that he’s more than just hip-hop with an album that includes jazz, spoken word, poetry, interviews or audio of he or someone else speaking, broadening his creative boundaries and adding something unique to his musical portfolio.
At the start, there is a slow transition to a live album, making everything feel organic along the way. Lamar released a studio version of “i” late last year but chose to go with a live version on the album.
Most artists try force complexity into their songs but miss the mark on the fundamentals. Lamar does the simple things well and consistently throughout the album.
Every song has an intro, climax, bridge and theme, and Lamar adds a distinct personality to each track by diversifying his vocal range.
The first verse of “Institutionalized” he uses his highest pitch to show how his environment chokes him. “U” demonstrates a broken man as Lamar raps with a drunken slur. “The Blacker The Berry” gives off his strongest persona using his voice in a loud, violent tone. His milder tone is used on most of his other songs.
“To Pimp A Butterfly” centers on social injustice, race wars in America and the price of being a minority, and few songs break that tension.
Most listen to music to take a break from reality. What Lamar raps about is real and important, but that could make “To Pimp A Butterfly” difficult to listen to as a break from stress.
Lamar holds nothing back with his music creativity and what he chooses to rap about. It could have been better than Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic,” but the biggest downfall is the seriousness in which he takes his topics. Even with that drawback, “To Pimp A Butterfly” is one of today’s the greatest hip-hop albums.