16 Songs, 1 Hour 18 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In 2014, after Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s The Heist won the Best Rap Album Grammy over Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city, Macklemore posted an apology to Kendrick, reading, in part, "You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have.”

He wasn’t alone. Flush with heat rocks like “Backseat Freestyle” and moody turns like “Swimming Pools (Drank),” good kid, m.A.A.d city was an epochal moment for Kendrick Lamar and West Coast hip-hop—but a bigger moment was still on the horizon. Meandering far from m.A.A.d. city’s Compton street soliloquies, the follow-up To Pimp a Butterfly is a searing portrait of the black experience in America as well as a document of Kendrick’s own personal awakening. He juxtaposes pain (“Institutionalized,” “The Blacker the Berry,” “King Kunta”) and depression (“u”) with joyful celebration (“i”). Kendrick holds a microscope up to the consequences of racialized self-hatred and class subjugation on “Wesley’s Theory” and “Complexion,” while “How Much a Dollar Cost” and “You Ain't Gotta Lie (Momma Said)” are dramatic, personal testimonials about fame and his changing world. And in the wake of increased gun violence and police brutality, the powerhouse “Alright” became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. The music is as complex as his thoughts, favoring deep jazz, fragrant coffeehouse poetry, and dirty P-funk with help from a phalanx of collaborators ranging from Kamasi Washington and Thundercat to Pharrell Williams and Boi-1da.

To Pimp a Butterfly is Kendrick’s Guernica—a timeless, powerful, and fascinating political statement—as well as one of the sharpest left turns in rap history. The year after the Grammy snub, TPAB elevated Kendrick from one of the best rappers in the game to one of the best artists of all time. And, surprise! It also won the Grammy for Best Rap Album. (Then he won another for 2017's DAMN, plus a Pulitzer for good measure). Despite the adage, sometimes you do remember who came in second.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics. Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In 2014, after Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s The Heist won the Best Rap Album Grammy over Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city, Macklemore posted an apology to Kendrick, reading, in part, "You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have.”

He wasn’t alone. Flush with heat rocks like “Backseat Freestyle” and moody turns like “Swimming Pools (Drank),” good kid, m.A.A.d city was an epochal moment for Kendrick Lamar and West Coast hip-hop—but a bigger moment was still on the horizon. Meandering far from m.A.A.d. city’s Compton street soliloquies, the follow-up To Pimp a Butterfly is a searing portrait of the black experience in America as well as a document of Kendrick’s own personal awakening. He juxtaposes pain (“Institutionalized,” “The Blacker the Berry,” “King Kunta”) and depression (“u”) with joyful celebration (“i”). Kendrick holds a microscope up to the consequences of racialized self-hatred and class subjugation on “Wesley’s Theory” and “Complexion,” while “How Much a Dollar Cost” and “You Ain't Gotta Lie (Momma Said)” are dramatic, personal testimonials about fame and his changing world. And in the wake of increased gun violence and police brutality, the powerhouse “Alright” became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. The music is as complex as his thoughts, favoring deep jazz, fragrant coffeehouse poetry, and dirty P-funk with help from a phalanx of collaborators ranging from Kamasi Washington and Thundercat to Pharrell Williams and Boi-1da.

To Pimp a Butterfly is Kendrick’s Guernica—a timeless, powerful, and fascinating political statement—as well as one of the sharpest left turns in rap history. The year after the Grammy snub, TPAB elevated Kendrick from one of the best rappers in the game to one of the best artists of all time. And, surprise! It also won the Grammy for Best Rap Album. (Then he won another for 2017's DAMN, plus a Pulitzer for good measure). Despite the adage, sometimes you do remember who came in second.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics. Mastered for iTunes
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Ratings and Reviews

4.5 out of 5
10.2K Ratings
10.2K Ratings
Anthony E. R. ,

"This is what hip-hop is."

After finishing this album, I can truly say with confidence that this album is a masterpiece. There is nothing like this, Kendrick has created something perfect. It is perfect because it has a message, but the way Kendrick explained this message to me just blew me away. From ranting about the government and their carelessness for minorities to his subtle conversation with one of the most influential rappers who ever lived, 2Pac. This sequence of songs really brings it all in and in such a precise manner, leaving you to ponder about one of the most controversial issues in the US. I'm convinced this will get album of the year. I was expecting a "fire" album, but Kendrick really changed the whole game with this album. After hearing that third "PAC" and being left with utter silence, I was truly shocked. This is what hip-hop is. This is what music is. This is the album that only comes once in a lifetime, I suggest you get to listening.

White Barry Bonds ,

Album of the year already.

Kendrick will never let us down.

jovehnic ,

Quite possibly the GOAT

I knew the album would be great but I wasn't expecting this. This album may be the best album I've ever heard. It's nothing like Good Kid so get over it. It's not a follow up album, it's a reaction album. A reaction to the success and the awareness of what great power brings. It's shockingly honestly. Sonically it sounds like an album that Andre 3000 would have made. This album is what Yeezus should have been. If this isn't the best album I've ever heard I'll say it is the most honest, soulful, powerful, and important album of my time. Thank you Kendrick!

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