KENDERICK LAMAR HAS REVEALED his 16 track album To PIMP A BUTTERFLY (TBAP) -which has been voted the best black album of the last decade, kicking Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy off that perch- was to have been called TU Pimp a Caterpillar.
“Me changing it to Butterfly, I just really wanted to show the brightness of life and the word pimp has so much aggression and that represents several things,” he said. “For me, it represents using my celebrity for good. Another reason is, not being pimped by the industry through my celebrity.”
In an interview with MTV’s Rob Markman (watch after this article), the Compton MC disclosed the choice of original title album was to honour Tupac Shakur.
The rapper formerly called K.Dot regards the legendary fellow city mate as his mentor. The Kendrick-Tupac connection is very reaching.
Mr. Lamar has spoken on how Tupac visited –at age 21-in a dream and asked him to let ‘the music die’-a great responsibility the 27 year old Lamar is shouldering. Also, Kenderick Lamar’s birthday (17th June) is a day shy from that of Tupac. Lastly, the Compton MC has spoken about him seeing filming of the last stages of “California Love’ with Dr. Dre when he was young.
TPAB is an ‘unconventional’ rap album. It is nothing close to his GKMC album. TBAP projected another dimension of Lamar-an artiste not scared to purse his interest and not that which the industry and record companies dictate-the quest for a hit song.
TPAB is a full jazz album likened to a John Coltrane and Miles Davies kind of style. A rap album plastered with stream of consciousness about life, living, celebrity status, racism and spoken word poetry.
Kendrick Lamar comes across as an anathema to rap culture when success finds an artiste. Here’s a ‘good kid’ who didn’t allow himself to be corrupted by the ‘mad city’; a ccelebrity who still keeps a level head and prefers to stay within the shadows rather than the bright lights; a rapper unafraid to try new genres; a millionaire who chooses to stay in the ‘hood’ rather than leave to a more ‘urban’ area and enjoy the bohemian lifestyle.
To Pimp A Butterfly has been called a classic by music heads and the reason is not far-fetched: it is timely and different, addresses the issues (in part) facing America and the black community.
And with the A-Class producers versed in their respective artsforms- Terrance Martin, Robert Glasper, Flylo, Kassimi Washington, Thundercat with Bilal, Ann Wise and Lala Hathaway on vocals, the outcome is unsurprising.
Watch the interview with Rob Markman