To Pimp A Butterfly feels like a book. Less album, more novel. To Kill A Mockingbird comes to mind, fittingly. On the record Kendrick has a lot on his mind to say, and most of it isn't a popular opinion. But he don't care, he got's that itch, he needs to speak his piece. It just happens that he layers over some complex jazzy beats, undoubtably influenced by his work with Flying Lotus. In many ways, To Pimp A Butterfly sounds like Black Messiah, Yeezus, You're Dead!, Stankonia, amongst others, thrown in a blender. It's a little messy, a little preachy. It's not an easy listen. Nothing bangs, but tracks cook. And Kendrick sounds angry or on the verge of tears, often both.
Kendrick wants to tell his story. Wants you to listen. Wants to be heard. And it's hard to sit through. It's difficult to listen to an album expecting something and getting something totally different. Two-thirds in, I started getting emotional, and I don't know why. The album just hit me. Smack. It was just beautiful. It was saying such truths about times of the past, times of now. How things change, how things don't. How people change, how people say they will change and how people won't change. Rap albums that tackle difficulty and are successful at it? Wow, unicorns are less rare.
Here was a man giving me his experience, and relaying the experience of his people. Race, poverty, humanity. That is not simple stuff, it's complex, like the album. It might be a masterpiece.