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Album Review
To Pimp a Butterfly

To Pimp a Butterfly
by Kendrick Lamar

Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope

Review Date
15th April 2015
Reviewed by
Paul Larsen

“Remember, anyone can get it. The hard part is keeping it,” comes the somewhat needless reminder from Dr. Dre to Kendrick in the opening track of To Pimp a Butterfly. The importance of this record as the follow up to 2012’s gargantuan Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, can hardly be overstated. Universally praised by alternative and mainstream press and fans alike, GKMC managed to signify both a revival of a dormant west coast hip hop scene and the passing of the baton to a new generation of rap superstar.

No real surprise then, that To Pimp a Butterfly leans heavily on the foundations of its predecessor. The concept album structure and personal/political interplay are largely the same, but the scale has been greatly increased. The politics are now national rather than regional, and the personal stories are about communities and social groups rather than Lamar’s friends and family. Evidently, K.Dot’s friends now include George Clinton as is evident in the funk-rap vibe that repeatedly returns to the fore throughout the album.

If there’s a reservation to be had, it’s in the parallels that can sometimes be drawn too easily between moments and songs on the first record and this. The sultry slow jam ‘Poetic Justice’ is reborn as ‘These Walls’, The lively sing-a-long ‘Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe’ could have been updated as ‘King Kunta’ and so on. While this feels a little too easy, it ultimately can’t detract from the quality of the music and there’s enough invention and sheer talent in Lamar’s range and delivery to keep this from holding back the album as a whole. Dre needn’t worry; this kid has just begun to take flight.


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