Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly released

First posted 8/17/2020.

To Pimp a Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar


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Released: March 15, 2015


Peak: 12 US, 11 UK, 11 CN, 11 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.17 UK, 1.23 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rap


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Wesley’s Theory (with George Clinton & Thundercat) [4:47]
  2. For Free? (Interlude) [2:10]
  3. King Kunta [3:54] (3/24/15, #58 US, 20 RB, 56 UK, 52 CN, 32 AU, sales: 1.0 m)
  4. Institutionalized (with Bilal, Anna Wise, & Snoop Dogg) [4:31]
  5. These Walls (with Bilal, Anna Wise, & Thundercat) [5:00] (10/13/15, #94 US, 34 RB)
  6. U [4:28]
  7. Alright [3:39] (6/30/15, #81 US, 24 RB, sales: 1.0 m)
  8. For Sale? (Interlude) [4:51]
  9. Momma [4:43]
  10. Hood Politics [4:52]
  11. How Much a Dollar Cost (with James Fauntleroy & Ronald Isley) [4:21]
  12. Complexion (A Zulu Love) (with Rapsody) [4:23]
  13. The Blacker the Berry [5:28] (2/9/15, #66 US, 25 RB, 83 UK, sales: 0.5 m)
  14. You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said) [4:01]
  15. i [5:36] (9/16/14, #39 US, 11 RB, 20 UK, 61 CN, 48 AU, sales: 1.0 m)
  16. Mortal Man [12:07]


Total Running Time: 78:51

Rating:

4.539 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)


Quotable: Lamar is “expanding the boundaries of the hip-hop empire and daring other aspirants to the throne – yes, even Kanye, even Jay – to play catch-up.” – Kyle Anderson, Entertainment Weekly


Awards:

About the Album:

Kendrick Lamar emerged with his debut album, Section 80, in 2011. While it only peaked at #113 on the Billboard album chart, his sophomore effort, Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City, exploded, peaking at #2 and being certified 3x platinum. To Pimp a Butterfly, his third album, “arrived with the force of a sledgehammer.” RB It was a platinum-seller which debuted at 31 and gave him his fourth top-40 pop hit (i). The album featured executive producing from Dr. Dre and guest spots from George Clinton, Ronald Isley, Snoop Dogg, and others.

On Butterfly, Lamar is “expanding the boundaries of the hip-hop empire and daring other aspirants to the throne – yes, even Kanye, even Jay – to play catch-up.” KA the album incorporates “throwback soul, churning jazz, Sly Stone-style riot funk, front-porch blues, and highly politcized spoken word.” KA The album served “as a whistle-stop tour through the history of black music in America.” RB Terrace Martin, a producer who worked on the abum, said “there wasn’t a conscious discussion of incorporating different genres while making the album, but an ongoing mediation of racial politics and black culture experience influenced the music.” WF

Butterfly samples everyone from Michael Jackson to Sufjan Stevens. Alright sampled Ernie Isley’s “psychedelic, phased and distorted guitar riff” WF from the Isley Brothers’ “That Lady.” Lamar visited the Isleys personally to get permission to use it. WK The song became a modern day “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” a “rallying cry at Black Lives Matter demonstrations.” RB Lamar told NPR, “four hundred years ago, as slaves, we prayed and sang joyful songs to stay level-headed with what was going on…We still need that music to heal. And I think that ‘Alright’ is definitely one of those records.” RB

On Mortal Man, Lamar even used parts of an interview with late rapper Tupac Shakur to create an imagined dialogue. That song and For Free? represented a merger of jazz and rap, blending “the fluidity of live jazz performance with Lamar’s stream-of-conscious lyrics.” WF Lamar incorporated the work of jazz musicians such as pianist Robert Glasper and bassist Stephen Bruner (known as Thundercat) throughout the album. The approach faced some resistance from the hip-hop world that “expected the hard-core, minimal aesthetic of drum machine ‘boom-bap’ patterns.” WF

Lamar told MTV he “started the album already knowing what I wanted to talk about, just based off the idea of feeling like you’re being pimped and manuevered in the industry.” RB Overall, the album is a “thematically rich project which surveyed a crumbling society and all of its grotesque, systematic ills” RB as Lamar explores depression, institutional discrimination, and racial inequality. WK

After a visit to historic sites in South Africa, including Nelson Mandela’s former jail cell, Lamar was inspired to delve into a variety of themes regarding African-American culture. He said, “I felt like I belonged in Africa. I saw all the things that I wasn’t taught Probably one of the hardest things to do it is put [together] a concept on how beautiful a place it can be, and tell a person this while they’re still in the ghettos of Compton. I wanted to put that experience in the music.” WK One such example is King Kunta, which has “a lyrical narrative that references Kunta Kinte, a latter-18th century slave character from Alex Haley’s 1976 novel Roots.” WF

“For every flag-planting fireball like the thumping ‘King Kunta’ or galvanizing ‘The Blacker the Berry,’ there are pauses for affairs of both the heart (the dreamy Complexion (A Zulu Love)) and parts located somewhere south of it (see: cheeky sex jam These Walls).” JA

The album received widespread accaim, including 11 Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year. It won Rap Album of the Year. Rolling Stone, Spin, and Village Voice all ranked it the best album of the year. In retrospect, Lamar-collaborator Kamasi Washington said of the album, it “changed music…It meant that intellectually stimulating music doesn’t have to be underground.” RB

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