How Good is Kendrick Lamar's Third Album?

Complexity, creativity and commercial success are hard to find together in popular music. However, with “To Pimp A Butterfly” not only does Compton born rapper Kendrick Lamar make a complex, creative, commercial success; he makes a true concept album.

This is only his third studio album, yet Lamar has done what most musicians try and fail many times throughout their careers. Musically the album is on point and varies in style, dipping into funk, jazz, rock and trap.

It’s also lyrically brilliant. Not a single word is out of place. When “i” was originally released as a single, the clean feeling production hurt the song a tad. However, the version found on this album is explosively dirty and biting. While the song still holds its funk elements and pop catchiness, it gains a whole new life. Never have I heard such diverse and layered work since maybe David Bowie’s “Station To Station.” Hell, even the stinking Beatles never managed to make a true concept album.

The fact that Lamar’s current album is only his third speaks volumes, but not as much as the fact that his second studio effort, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” (2012), is considered a modern gangsta rap masterpiece. And if that is a masterpiece, then “To Pimp A Butterfly” is a modern epic. Perhaps, even the first truly great rap album of the 2010s.

To describe this album further would be an undermining notion. Both rap music and music fans in general deserve “To Pimp A Butterfly.” Buy it now.

Jeffery Petrone
Music Reporter / The Record
Jeffery Petrone is a music lover who would speak in music if he could, but he can't.