To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar is deserving of respect


Josh Castro, Staff Reporter

DISCLAIMER: The album reviewed includes explicit content and comes with a parental advisory for it’s content. The content on the artist’s album does not reflect specific views of The Riverhawk Review or CRHS.

To Pimp A Butterfly is a Compton based rap and funk influenced album made by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth on March 16th, 2015. The album consists of 16 songs ranging from drunkenly sung sobs on “u” to egotistical gloating on “King Kunta”. The album, based roughly on Kendrick’s trip to South Africa, also took some inspirations from his feelings of the industries willingness to ostracize and penalize any successful African American who may have messed up financially, which would become the main focus of his opening song, “Wesley’s Theory”.  

TPAB was released during a time of unprecedented police brutality and political upset, with many people opening their eyes to the horror of it all. TPAB touches on a lot of topics that many people don’t talk about, like in-race fighting, oppression, faith and self worth. Kendrick created an opening to the youth of our generation and worked to mold their minds to see the injustices of our society. With TPAB’s Alright becoming an unofficial anthem for the BLM movement and its lyrics being chanted during protests.

To Pimp A Butterfly stands out from other rap albums that were releasing at the time with fresh musical appearances from those who weren’t really relevant in the rap scene. The Face of Funk, George Clinton, and Grammy winning artist Thundercat featured on the opening track. With rap legend Snoop Dogg coming in on Institutionalized . These artists give the album a much more lucid and flowy feel as opposed to the average punchy and hard-hitting projects released at the time. This jazz feel for a rap album was lost to time for a bit, with its last major appearance being with A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets.

The record also deals with the change of Kendrick’s thoughts and beliefs after finally making it big with his last album “good kid, m.A.A.d city”, he dives into a sort of survivor’s guilt stemming from escaping the cold grasp of Compton, one of America’s roughest cities, as he feels he isn’t doing enough for the friends and family that he left behind, and the loved ones he lost on his way to stardom. Kendrick realizes that to find himself he must go back to his roots, which takes him to South Africa, where he meets a beggar that asks for a dollar. When Kendrick denies him, the beggar reveals himself to be God, now denying Kendrick a spot in heaven due to his perceived ego.

To Pimp A Butterfly is a poetic album that demonstrates the struggles Kendrick grapples with like his identity, self worth and his guilts with himself, yet also dives into the seemingly never ending battle of oppression and liberation of the African American community. To quote Kendrick, “B****, where were you when I was walkin’, now I run the game, got the whole world talkin’”.