Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kendrick Lamar To Pimp A Butterfly Album Review

So....I apologize that I've been gone for so long but see I had a lot of stuff going on in my life; trials and tribulations, you could say. But....ya'll dont want to hear about any of that crap, huh? I understand that. I feel you. Im not mad at you, either. I've been looking for ways to get back into writing again and keep it interesting. However, I just couldn't find that great topic or review that would generate that much interest from my readers ALONG with myself. Then this here little album came along...

And I thought to myself......that's it! So here it is Tuesday and I need to get it out there(plus TAAN comes out today so I can move on to that next).

This is exactly what I needed to get back in the zone. So here I am, as promised. Plus, my homie said I only had two weeks and Im not trying to disappoint. So, here we go. Ya'll ready?

1. Wesley's Theory ft./ George Clinton and Thundercat - I admittedly dont know a crazy amount about GC or Stephen Bruner but after this album, I have to acquaint myself with their work. The songs they have appearances in definitely boosted the overall message and feel of what Kendrick was offering to us(oh yeah...I still got my badass run-on sentences that ya'll love so much). But Im getting ahead of myself, we have to talk in depth about the profoundness of this track. 
See it kind of takes place right where Good Kid m.A.A.d. City left us. Kendrick is on his way to the top but some things have changed on the way up there. This is where he(along with the intro from GC) explain where the name of the album comes from. K. Dot is getting caught up in the fame and money and has given up on the message he's been sending to everyone. The song also has Kendrick give two points of view; himself and the music industry in general. See, because he's getting caught up in the fame, as I mentioned earlier, the industry catches that and now they are trying to reel him in and tell him how he should go about presenting himself from then on to be more successful. There is also some references to Sherane when he's talking about "At first I did love you" which kind of goes to show further that he isnt interested in the things he used to be. The whole meaning behind the name of the song is because although Wesley Snipes is a very successful actor, he got in trouble with a lot of things, most notably, taxes. Well, basically this is kind of telling the story of how a black man can get famous but still get in trouble and used up and so on and so forth. At least, it's something along those lines. 

2. For Free? - The first time I heard this I was actually cracking up over it. I even kind of adopted the "THIS DICK AINT FREEEEEEE" saying and made it partly my own.....because I mean....that shit's funny as hell and true and I'll go into why when I describe the different meanings of this interlude. However, after I listened to it more, I connected the lyrics and caught on to who the message was to(even though it wasnt that hard to get, he even mentions it towards the end). Now, I'm not gonna lie, this will probably get skipped a lot for my future listens to the album, but that's not to take anything from it. I feel like the interlude serves as his response to, not only the music industry but for the government as well. He has both characterized as a typical unhappy ghetto(possibly gold-digging)female. She's attempting to put him down for wanting to do what he wants to do, instead of trying to be like every other stereotypical black male who only becomes successful through rap.
After she is done with her little rant Kenny goes Kimberly Wilkins on her, but in an even longer rant to shut her down. He's done getting fucked by both the government and the music industry. There is also reference to something Tupac said about how he isnt going to pay for pussy when dick is supposed to be free. Kendrick isnt going to stand for that any longer(and boom....why I adopted the saying myself). It's no secret that men are being made out to be some cannon fodder and women are put on a pedestal to be this crazy amazing thing, especially recently, as everyone is afraid to be sexist. So, he covers a lot of different topics. Yet, at the end of the day, you might not give it the time of the day after the first listen or two.

3. King Kunta - See Kendrick is in that purgatory like area of his life that he is becoming successful enough and starting to feel the hate from his peers from when he was younger, however, he still inst rich enough to be fully accepted by the people above him. At the same time, he's showing that he wont take "no" for an answer and letting everyone know that he isn't afraid to call those above him out. There's even a possible subliminal about Jay Z and Kanye with the "sitting in my throne" line but I could be overthinking it. 
The song also gives a little bit of explanation on why it's so funk inspired and having a lot of samples from the time. Funk is a very popular form of music, but supposedly(i say supposedly because Im not positive on all this), "funk season" takes place during the warm months of the year, where crime rate rises in the hood. So, there is that, and I guess Kendrick is trying to say that it's his time(of the year) to start killing shit. One of my favorite songs on the album and I feel like Kendrick took a chance with making it one of his lead singles next to "i". This is also where the poem he is reciting to SPOILERS 2 Pac begins and continues through out the album, in parts, until he finally finishes in the final song.

4. Institutionalized ft./ Bilal, Anna Wise and Snoop Dogg - You see this is why I dont get haters when it comes to Kendrick...the dude is pretty much endorsed by all of the living legends, especially Snoop Dogg. But hey....that's neither here nor there. This song is about how money isnt everything and how Kendrick is getting back to putting out messages for his listeners and friends. Now that he has surpassed those trying to put him down, he is going the higher route and showing everyone how to get to the top without accepting being institutionalized along with so many others who have been convinced that something is wrong with them. He is also teaching people the benefits of being independent and not lean on others for their success. Plus, Snoop was on it so....yeah.

5. These Walls ft./ Bilal, Anna Wise, Thundercat - This is kind of that smooth, let the convertible top down and enjoy a stroll on the highway in route to the beach, kind of track. It's all about seduction and sex but see I sense a possible symbolism going on here too...but I cant really catch it. I dont know who he's fucking but I know the chick's dude is in prison. 

6. u - Honestly, this is the song I kind of identify with the most. After listening to it so many times, I finally read some things that Kendrick said about it. There is so much deep meaning to this song...it's as follows; now Im sure that to continue the story of the album, Kendrick has everyone following him again. But, now...he's second guessing himself and this is that debate that goes on within him. As mentioned before, he uses topics like his friend dying, to make him feel worse and unworthy of his happiness. At the end of the day, you can take on the outside influences all you like; what do you do when the biggest thing holding you back is "u"? That's pretty much what this song is. 

7. Alright ft./ Pharrell Williams - So what if the family of the track you kind of stole to make a million off of and play out on every radio station around the country? Nigga we gon be alright....I guess that's what the homie Pharrell is saying, but....Kendrick on the other hand is trying to say he isnt going to be taken down by racism or being stereotyped by the industry. He isnt the average black man and he is showing that his is getting over his depression he suffered in "u" along with giving an example of how he is independent instead of allowing himself to be institutionalized. 
It's also him talking about him dealing with his past coming back to him on his way to the promise land. He has accepted it and wants to move on with his life whether people can learn to love him or not. 

8. For Sale? - Bruhhhhhh...okay okay okay...check it out. See this is one of the interludes that you might want to skip because you dont get it but, this has just as much symbolism and connections to For Free, if not more. Check it out...see when the ghetto female trying to sort of put Kendrick down failed, they knew that they had to throw another female or approach at Kendrick to get him in their control. Enter Lucy. Earlier Kendrick mentioned how Sherane has nothing on Lucy, the new chick in his life. In a way it could be seen as a fight between Sherane and Lucy where Sherane is the hood and where he came from(Sherane being a black name) and Lucy....sort of being the rich white successful side. Lucy is trying to seduce him by showing him all he could have with her if he signed the contract. She is good because she tempts him by also using some things that he has said or been a part of in the past....basically keeping with the topic of the last song. Kendrick knew that it would come but now he IS dealing with exactly that.
Lucy is actually the devil himself in form of a female to get Kendrick under his control since everyone else has failed to do so. The devil is trying to take advantage of his depression before it fully leaves him and he might not get a chance to take him over again. It's basically the opposite of For Free? which the chick in that tried to tell him that he wasnt even worth their time and should be grateful for the opportunity....since that didnt work they are trying to flip it around and make it like he is better than anyone who has come before him and that he deserves ALL THAT and more and that Lucy can bring it to him.

9. Momma - This is his decision. Did he choose Lucy or Sherane? The answer is Sherane, his black side, his momma, Compton, California, Mother Africa, his origin, his self before he became famous. Its about him fully reacquainting himself with who he is and getting back in touch with his people. 
The song also begins the second half and sort of the second message of the album too. It takes a more agressive turn and it was time for him to start teaching to everyone what he has learned.

10. Hood Politics - Imagine if they took Kanye West and then they took every bit of Kanye that was arrogant and cocky and full of himself from ANY little bit of nice, smiling, fun-loving Jesus Walks that he had left in him and threw it away....and then the non-trashed part of Kanye did the fusion dance with Kendrick Lamar....after that Kenye Wesmar decided to take all of Yeezus, mix that shit with "Cut You Off", the "Control" verse and m.A.A.d city all in one with a sprinkle of ScHoolboy Q style.......that's exactly what this track would be.
See the thing about this song I kind of feel like he's doing the same thing to them that the world did to him on his way to move up...and he's showing them tough love. In this song though he's kind of showing why the stuff going on in the hood really isnt any match for anything going on in the rest of the world. I also kind of feel like he's trying to tell his people that this life isnt enough, they need to step it up. This is where the album takes a turn to the current events that have been going on with racism like Trayvon Martin shooting and etcetera.

11. How Much A Dollar Cost ft./ James Fontleroy and Ronald Isley - Kendrick has chosen to get away from the Devil and the rest of the Industry and not let the Government get to him...yet that doesnt mean he's still a little selfish and greedy. 
Kendrick is in the streets of either Compton or Africa when he meets a homeless man and he asks for a dollar....Kendrick goes back and forth with this man about how he deserves all the money that he has received. The homeless man tries to continues by asking him the value of a dollar in which he continues to describe why he deserves it. After a while the man states that he is actually God and tells Kendrick that the money isn't worth not having a place in heaven. It's deep as hell too....because...after dealing with the Government trying to show that he isnt worth anything in the form of a ghetto female that thought she was better than she was....and then dealing with the Industry/Devil in the form of a seductive female who wanted to trick him into thinking he could have everythign at the cost of his soul.....God shows up as a broke, homeless man who is still comfortable and confident as he is, despite having nothing and wants to show Kendrick that he can be and have the same comfort and confidence.

12. Complexion ft./ Rapsody - Pete Rock on the hook? This is AMAZING! He's one of my favorites of all time, man. This is just another great work of art he's a part of. 
After learning his lesson from God, he tries to push on to everyone that complexion doesn't matter and everyone should love one another, not hate. It doesn't just talk about white vs black. It's about dark-skinned vs light-skinned. To this day there is still just as much hate between black people as there is between blacks and whites. This song is talking about ending all of that and how it's unfair and wrong.
Rapsody came with some tight and deep bars to add that connected everything perfectly.

13. The Blacker The Berry ft./ Assassin - This is probably my favorite song on the album because of the next level Kendrick takes this to afterwards. Earlier, I was talking about how Kendrick was giving his people some tough love...well now he's giving everyone some tough love. It begins the thought that Kendrick has two sides...but he doesn't feel anything is wrong with him or his thoughts or his race or anything. In fact, he's angry at everyone and they made him this way. He mentions how pissed he was about Trayvon being killed but about how he's taken part in the killing of black men as well. His thoughts get criticized by everyone including his own people.
So, even though he starts off each verse as an angry man towards whites for killing blacks....he's also angry that the black people are killing black people as well. He also uses the thoughts of black people and their own thoughts against them as well....this is kind of another reference to him using the tactics he went through on his ways to success and passing it on. It's aggressive and forceful...its meaningful and intense.

14. You Aint Gotta Lie - If you're a rapper or anything successful really and you take the same trip that Kendrick has taken, make sure you stay the same. Don't lie....be yourself. You dont have to be something you're not to be successful. This song is also part of the lessons he's learned. Which in the other skits where he met the government and the devil....he's now trying to show what God has shown him as well. Dont worry about money and power. Dont worry about hos, dont worry about guns or any of that...just worry about who you are. I dig it. 

15. "i" - This song got WAYYYYYYYY too much hate when it first came out. It's like people cant take anything that's trying to push self love and other topics like that. For a minute there, a lot of people went from treating Kendrick like a God...to Macklemore or something like that....and it was unfair, especially with what the song means and how he connects it to other songs and the overall message of the album that he was writing. 
The first connection is to "u" which obviously is kind of backwards. "u" is actually about him, while "i" is actually a song to everyone else. Another song this is connected to is "The Blacker The Berry" but instead of being angry, he's doing the opposite....while sending a happier message as well and another way to achieve the goal he talked about that song as well. The song is positive and about inspiring people to be happy and to continue to persevere, along with himself. 
It was talking about how great African-Americans have been in the past, are in the present and will be in the future. The acapella at the end sets it off perfectly. 
It was peaceful, it was happy, it was upbeat. Its meaningful and enthusiastic.

16. Mortal Man - We are all human, as he is. Kendrick isnt trying to be a God and doesnt look to be seen as someone who is seen as someone who cant make mistakes. And when/if he makes those mistakes, he doesnt want to be abandoned. He in fact doesnt want anyone to go through that and wants people to think differently instead of jump to conclusions so quickly. This is a common issue and seems to happen way worse today with the internet age and everyone being able to speak their opinions on something in a matter of seconds. He uses important African Americans in the past to display exactly what he's saying. For example, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, was accused of child sex abuse multiple times. If something like that were to happen with Kendrick, just the accusation alone, would it ruin your thoughts on him? He only wants those who will support him always. 
Then, at the end, Kendrick finishes the recital of his poem he wrote for 2 Pac before interviewing him. The amazing thing about it is he figured out a perfect way to mix whats going on today and what was going on in the past to make what Pac said way back then matter to this day. Apply to this day. It still does. Now what you want to take out of it is up to you. I feel the ending of this is just extraordinary, as he has used Pac coming to speak to him in the past before. He moves on to another poem that he wrote and it describes the full meaning behind the choice of the title for his album. However, when he asks Tupac for his impressions....he couldnt give them. This is trying to show that Tupac was taken from us too soon. Kendrick wanted to hear more from him but he never could. Then again, he could just be leaving us to make our decision on how we feel about the title as well. It could also be seen as 2Pac officially passing the torch to him. He heard that and felt he needed to say nothing...and just let Kendrick continue to send his message off because he was ready.

To Pimp A Butterfly was amazing and what an album should be...and while I wish there were some TDE appearances, I wont be picky. I loved everything about it. The grade doesn't matter. You should know what it is.

Damn....I cant believe I got to this point to be honest. Nah...not the end of the review, I loved writing it. I missed writing, that's what I mean. Yet, for so long, as I mentioned before, every time I started typing I couldnt get past a paragraph.....sometimes a sentence, until I just closed the page and moved on. 2014 was a lesson learning time for me....especially towards the ending there. I wont go into it too deeply but....I lost a close friend of mine and he was a person who inspired me, pushed me, made me want to be better and held me back at the same time(but in a good way). It was like he was kind of grabbing me and then saying NOW BREAK FREE! He knew exactly how it was that I grew and he was a big part of that every time I made a breakthrough in my life. Last year, he passed away from the thing that was holding him back. Throughout our past we had our huge ups and downs...we've gone through the most harshest of conflicts and the greatest of stability. 
After he passed away I didnt have that challenge anymore, I felt nothing....no one to push me. No one to say I couldnt even though they knew I could. The biggest part that got me was a promise I made, that I didnt even get the chance to keep. I never got to say goodbye, Im sorry, nothing. It hurt me for so long and still gets to me this day. Yet, I knew that I would just be disappointing him if I continued to live the way I was. He was the first person to read EACH AND EVERY article. Now what would I do, I used to think. So, after so long of not doing so...after pitying myself and punishing myself...I finally started writing again after thinking I never would. I have to thank you all for requesting this review so much. It probably wouldnt have happened if I wasn't given the challenge to write it. It really is appreciated. You got me over my dilemma. Over the hump. You've gotten me one step closer to being whole again and one step closer to becoming better than I was.