WVAU’s #1 Album of 2015: “To Pimp a Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar

Calkie Fisseha, General Manager

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Courtesy of Genius

To Pimp a Butterfly? What does that even mean? Why are all these shirtless dudes in front of the White House on the cover?

Therapeutic. That’s the only word to describe To Pimp a Butterfly. As I write this, I am at a loss for words about how this album makes me feel. It’s the perfect balance between talking about history and making it. Jazz, soul, funk, and rap blended into one is something that Kendrick Lamar only can pull off. It‰’s the best production and lyrics of 2015, and possibly of all time. Like any good album, To Pimp a Butterfly is a story, but this is a raw one.

Kendrick Lamar is the voice of our generation.

Play “You Ain’t Gotta Lie” and you’ll think about the times you fronted and acted like someone you’re not.

Spin “Hood Politics” and you’re reminded of the problems with our political system and how it all eventually boils down to Demo-Crips and Re-Blood-licans.

Grab the aux and blast “These Walls‰” and you‰’re left with room for your own interpretation of whatever you think it means because it‰’s filled with metaphors on metaphors.

Bump “Alright‰” and you‰’re reassured that even with everything happening in the world, we gon be alright.

Put on “Momma‰” and you‰’ll remember why you love music so much- the beats, lyrics, and everything in between.

Kendrick even managed to make a generation yell “I love myself‰Û.

“King Kunta‰” is an amazing example of Kendrick‰’s awesomeness. Although you might not know what the “yams‰” are, it gets everyone hype and singing about self-empowerment. You wouldn‰’t even realize that he‰’s referencing the 18th century class structure and his personal growth in the rap game.

“Wesley‰’s Theory‰” gets you dancing and reminds you how important it is to remember where you are from. “How Much a Dollar Cost‰” puts money into perspective. “Complexion‰” reminds you that underneath the different shades of black, we are all the same. “Mortal Man‰” is the beautiful outro that the world doesn‰’t deserve.

No detail was too small to focus on. Kendrick didn‰’t add features just to name drop; each feature is silky smooth. So when Rapsody or Snoop step in, it‰’s organic and they get their time to shine while fitting in perfectly with the flow. Throughout the album, Kendrick pays homage to the greats and seamlessly samples. He does it in upfront ways like in “Blacker the Berry‰Û, or in a subtler manner like “U‰Û. Borrowing from others and making it even better, is a majorrrrrr key.

Kunta‰’s Groove Sessions Tour showed the world how wonderful he is. The intimate 8 city tour brought music off the album with an even groovier twist. As someone who went, I can say that it was music in its purest form. Focus on instruments is something that has been long forgotten in the hip hop world. His idea to never preform the songs off the album live again shows his pure intentions to keep his morals in a game where it’s easy to lose it all. K. Dot is what hip hop needs.

As a huge Kendrick fan and Section.80 enthusiast, I have to say To Pimp a Butterfly is Kendrick’s greatest work. It shows how versatile and special he is in a world that doesn’t really value product. There‰’s layers to this album. You can hear how he has his city on his back. You can hear how far he‰’s progressed as an artist. To Pimp a Butterfly was released at a perfect time. We are in the age of resistance and change.

If Kendrick doesn’t win any of the 11 Grammys he’s nominated for, it won’t even matter. This album has monumental effects that will stand the test of time. It calls for solidarity and action, but also reminds you to cool out and enjoy yourself. Kendrick spoke to the confused black kids all across the country with To Pimp a Butterfly. Sure, other artists might get people hype, but they lack the ability to make us think and dance at the same time.

Kendrick was right when he rapped, “Black man taking no losses‰Û, this album was a win in every sense of the word. To Pimp a Butterfly is real hip hop. Just put on the album and listen to it the whole way through, then you‰’ll know what I mean.

“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence. Sometimes I did the same.‰Û