I am absolutely enamored by To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. This album is amazing in a way that I had never experienced before in music, in any genre. Not only was it a perfect pump up album, it carries artistic weight of the current events plaguing the nation.
To be frank, if someone told me two or three years ago that my favorite artist would be Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar, I might have actually asked “Who?” (not about Kanye. Kanye managed to infiltrate even the boulder I lived under). I am astonished at how flippantly I dismissed rap. The thing that changed was I started listening to Kanye, to Drake. The two names I considered household I decided to start with. Yeezy immediately caught my attention with both Yeezus and Watch the Throne. Like TPAB, Kanye has a certain energy behind all his music unlike anything I had ever heard. It probably also helps that Kanye is a genius and his samples are incredible.
The fire that seemed to inhabit Kanye’s blood evoked a strong love of the genre and a need for more. With the Grammy’s quickly approaching and Kendrick performing there, I decided to finish all of To Pimp a Butterfly. It was amazing.
TPAB is emotionally charged, dripping passion from every syllable, a pounding beat on every track. In short, if you haven’t listened to it, stop reading immediately, listen to it in order, and then come back. Did you finish it? Didn’t I tell you how rhythmic it was? Every track was different but incorporated some sort of funk or pop in a way that has me and my two left feet trying to dance, failing miserably, and then just swaying. The beat and lyrics stay with me, running through my head the whole day. I am honest to god obsessed with Kendrick and TPAB.
The passion that goes into making any type of art must be enormous, but the passion in rap is unfiltered, raw, when Kendrick and Kanye produce. They have pride in their work, pride in their hometown, and pride in their success. Do I think they are cocky or smug? No. Maybe. Kanye, I know, can be smug and does love himself very much, but both Kanye and Kendrick have earned their right to be smug. The haters will never see a wink of the level of success these two have.
I think the passion that drives them is what makes them great, is what makes them the kings of the trade. The art does not make the artist; rather, the artist must create the art using only what is within them. They may be influenced by previous artists, may be inspired by them, but any true artist must create rather than just copy.
Both Kanye and Kendrick keep everything they do new, everything they do creative, and they spearhead their efforts with more passion than I have ever had in my life. I wish I could take my obsession and put it to good use, turn it into a productive passion as they have. I might not be able to accomplish on the level as they have, but I sure would like to give it a try in whatever I do.
“King Kunta” is my favorite song. Share an artist you love and I’ll be sure to look them up!