Revisiting Kendrick Lamar’s magnum opus, To Pimp A ButterflyBehind the brightness of it all, life is filled with aggression, as a caterpillar transforms, a butterfly is welcomed into a world filled with madness and rage. Reassuring urgency amongst the evil within the democracy and mental health, Kendrick Lamar broadens the topic of race in America, as he explores the themes that defines an individual experience living in a land of restriction. As a narrative to race relations, spiritual awakenings, religion, success, and the evils of the music industry, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ is an intense retrospect to self realization
Building itself as a template to overcoming all odds against you and relying on faith, which is apparent on the album’s hit single, Alright, the album flows as necessary commentary to humanity. Speaking directly to the soul, Butterfly allows listeners to question their strength, and how their reactions to injustice can affect their surroundings, and how being careless to reality, ultimately backfires (For Sale, U). The density of the project allows listeners to interpret the narrative to limitless distinctions, but as the main context of the project focuses on being black in America, the album’s underlining messages pieces the puzzle for the bigger picture, the responsibility of self. Piecing the album together through a construction of themes and sounds on each track, the project unravels itself through each listen being a new learning experience for the listener.
Experimenting with the sounds of jazz, funk, rock n’ roll, and spoken word, Kendrick pulled from his roots, stepped out of his comfort zone and rivaled the perception of conscious rappers being a one trick pony. Challenging the perspective of life’s consequences, To Pimp A Butterfly achieved universal acclaim as it allows the audience to reflect on the darkness of consumerism, and the fantasy of freedom, while questioning what it truly means to pimp a butterfly. Trapped within a cocoon, Caterpillars are trapped by oppression, and then exploited by the system.