Ever since the lead single from the album “I” was released on September 23rd 2014, rap fans have been eagerly awaiting Lamar’s third studio album. Widely regarded as one of the best young rappers, Kendrick’s third album was hotly anticipated by rap aficionados. People know to expect fiery, passionate vocals from Lamar who has made a name for himself by releasing well throughout out ‘concept albums’ which all have a common theme. His first album Section.80 which was released in in 2011 was about the lives of two imaginary characters called Tammy and Keisha, and his second album which was released in 2012 Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City discusses Lamar’s experiences as a teenager growing up in Compton – a deprived city in California where many West Coast rappers originate from.
To Pimp a Butterfly was eventually released in its entirety on March 15 and was well received by critics. There is a strong Jazz influence throughout the album which focusses on the daily apartheid which African Americans face every day in the United States – a country which has more black people in prison than in college and where black people are disproportionately likely to be stopped by police. It is Kendrick Lamar’s best album. To Pimp a Butterfly is an instant classic and by far the best rap album released this year. A dark masterpiece equivalent to Picasso’s Guernica or The Scream by Edward Munch it is a revelation which changes the game in rap.
To name a ‘favourite’ song from the album would be doing a disservice to the other tracks. The best song for me changes every day in what is a phenomenal album. The first two singles released in the album discuss race heavily. The first single released from the album “I” is an upbeat track which talks about Kendrick’s perspective of the world. This positivity contrasts with much of the rest of the album which is darker in tone. Indeed, second single “The Blacker the Berry” is a mirror opposite to “I”, tackling themes of hypocrisy, racism and black self-hatred in society. The juxtaposition of themes in the two songs complement each other and exemplify the conflict of identities which many black people in America face. Another excellent song from the album is Hood Politics which compares the main political parties to gangs, discussing the ‘DemoCrips’ and ‘ReBloodlicans’ fighting over territory, arguing that political parties are simply gangs on a bigger scale. King Kunta is another incredible track, which contrasts the idea of a king with a rebellious slave Kunta Kinte whose story was the subject of a book and television series called “Roots: the Saga of an American Family”. The song discusses Lamar’s rise from a deprived child growing up in Compton to one of the leading lights in the rap world with confident lyrics such as “Now I run the game, got the whole world talkin’, King Kunta”. This shows Lamar’s confidence in his abilities and place in the world of rap.