Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly
Breaking the global record for streams in a single day, nearly 10 million people around the world tuned in to hear Kendrick Lamar's sophomore album in the hours after its release. To Pimp a Butterfly was widely hailed as an instant classic, garnering laudatory album reviews, many awards, and even a canonized place in Harvard's W. E. B. Du Bois archive. Why did this strangely compelling record stimulate the emotions and imaginations of listeners?
This book takes a deep dive into the sounds, images, and lyrics of To Pimp a Butterfly to suggest that Kendrick appeals to the psyche of a nation in crisis and embraces the development of a radical political conscience. Kendrick breathes fresh life into the Black musical protest tradition and cultivates a platform for loving resistance. Combining funk, jazz, and spoken word, To Pimp a Butterfly's expansive sonic and lyrical geography brings a high level of innovation to rap music. More importantly, Kendrick's introspective and philosophical songs compel us to believe in a future where, perhaps, we gon' be alright.