Your Guide to To Pimp a Butterfly

By Sgt. Olivia Betchson

So Kendrick Lamar released a new album called To Pimp A Butterfly, and everybody is fucking talking about it. And tbh, given how many rappers perform M.A.A.D City at their concerts a full two years after that song came out (answer: all of them. Every rapper alive), it’s safe to say nobody’s ever going to stop talking about To Pimp A Butterfly. So if you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em. You’re going to hear it sooner or later so you might as well read our tips for listening so that you get the most out of it. I can’t actually confirm that statement, but whatever, I’m still going to talk about this album like I’m a hip-hop scholar. It’s whatever.

Do: Be drunk. Honestly, you’re going to need a couple of drinks in you before you start this album. I don’t know why, you just will. Just like, invite all your friends over and have a listening party, and like all  other parties you will have a pregame to go along with it. Or you can smoke if you want. That works too.

Don’t: Be hungover. It’s an easy mistake to make but if you listen to TPAB (is anyone calling it TPAB? Whatevs), you will hate your life. You will want to throw your iPod out the window. A lot of the hooks on the album repeat the same like 4-8 times, rather than having two couplets or whatever. Drunk you can totally fuck with that. Hungover you will want to rip off your ears. In case you were ever wondering how many times you can hear someone say “This. Dick. Ain’t. Freeeee” before you give up on life, listen to the album hungover and you’ll find out. Hint: not that many times.

Do: Listen to it more than once. Listening to this album really takes commitment so you’re gonna have to settle in. If you just casually put it on and go through it one time while you’re studying or some shit, you probably won’t like it. It’s gonna take a couple go-arounds, but you will get down with it eventually (usually around the 2nd-3rd play). Anybody who says they loved it the first time around is dick riding.

Don’t: Expect it to be Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. If you go into To Pimp A Butterfly expecting it to be Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, you’re going to be disappointed. There will be no tales of Kendrick fucking the world for 72 hours. There will be no yawk yawk yawks. There is not a single yawk to be heard, in fact. 

Do: Have Selma ready. So here’s the thing: To Pimp A Butterfly isn’t going to make you feel like you’re riding around the streets of Compton flashing gang signs like M.A.A.D. City kinda did (don’t lie). With the exception of Alright and maybe like one other song, this joint will make you want to lock yourself in a room and contemplate the state of race relations in America today and like, the ramifications of your own privilege. You might even consider writing for Salon, who the fuck knows, anything could happen.

I’m only slightly exaggerating (but like not really tho). If you go out afterwards you’re prob going to try to start a debate with a stranger, whether that be the infamous “Which Kendrick album is better” debate, or other shit like “Tupac or Biggie,” “Beyoncé or Beck,” “Should Darren Wilson have been indicted” (yes), the possibilities really are endless when you’re in an argumentative mood fueled by hip-hop. So don’t do it! So just like, chill with your fave Civil Rights-related movie and the next day you can go around acting all superior to anyone who dares say that To Pimp a Butterfly isn’t the greatest album of all time (of all time!) because they obv are just too dense to really get it the way you do. At least, that’s what everyone else seems to be doing.

If you need me you can find me streaming Black Messiah on Spotify, because those are two things whose bandwagons I jumped on waaaaaay too late in the game. Until next time (so like, two years from now).




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