Collection: 4. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly

When Kendrick Lamar released his third studio album, To Pimp a Butterfly, he spoke about the title’s contrast between a butterfly—delicate, bright, free—and “pimp”: a word that hearkens aggression, deviance, and exploitation. The album itself is a dance between this dichotomy, one black Americans know all too well: between pain and beauty and what happens when one is informed by the other. Lamar invites us to Compton to watch him sermonize from his front porch while jazz, funk, and soul bands rove through, providing the melodies to his experimental beats. With assists from Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, the Isley Brothers, and George Clinton, he shows the range and harmony of black creativity; with his sharp and empathetic lyrics, he gives us the playfulness and joy of “King Kunta,” the frustration and didacticism of “The Blacker the Berry,” and the plain hope of “Alright.”

There’s music made by black people and then there’s black music: songs that hit you in the chest and make their way into your bloodstream, that become part of you. TPAB was released in the spring of 2015, three years after Trayvon Martin was gunned down, and over a year after Michael Brown and Eric Garner were murdered; Lamar knew that pain and knew, too, that more was to come. But with this album, he steeled us against the future and gave us not just anthems but prayers. He gave us the album he knew we’d need to keep going, as we always have. –Kara Brown / Pitchfork.com

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  • KENDRICK LAMAR - TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY (2LP) VINYL
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