To Pimp A Butterfly
The one downside of creating a hugely successful debut album is the seemingly impossible task of backing it up with a second. After the enormous success of good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar found himself in this exact situation. When Lamar’s second album, To Pimp A Butterfly,was released, early reports indicated that he might have pulled off the impossible – releasing an album that is as good, if not better, than the first.
To Pimp A Butterfly sees Lamar leave behind the catchy, radio-friendly anthems of its predecessor, branching off in ways no one would’ve imagined. It’s poetic, philosophical and socially aware, yet deeply conflicted. It still features the same, deep personal criticism and self-reflection, but Lamar takes it further this time round. u, the counterpart to single i, is uncomfortable, yet mesmerising to listen to, as Lamar progresses into an alcohol-fuelled breakdown, essentially sobbing the last two verses of vicious self-criticism.
Lamar’s created a genre-bending marathon that spans 16 tracks and 79 minutes, with elements of soul, funk and even jazz. The most bizarre track, however, is saved for the end when Lamar samples a 1994 Tupac interview to create a conversation between himself and his hero on Mortal Man.
To Pimp A Butterfly is not a comfortable or easy listen by any means – from its themes to the sheer length of it – but it is certainly worthwhile. Lamar could’ve taken the easy route and continued along the same path as his first album, on Butterfly you feel the pressure and responsibility he feels to act as a voice to the people and live up to the influences he idolises so much.