I think I’ll start this blog with the best album I’ve heard in a REALLY long time! One of the guys in my Photoshop class was listening to one of the songs – think it was How Much a Dollar cost on his headphones and I could hear it, asked him what he was listening to and he recommended the album.
Firstly WOW. He captures so much of the feeling in America right now of racism and all the institutional problems, and the reason why the #blacklivesmatter movement has become so big. He goes back to the roots of black culture both with the music that he’s using (Funk, Jazz and the Blues), the lyrics that he’s rapping/singing and the imagery used in the songs and videos.
Every song addresses something to do with the life of black youth, discrimination, the trap of growing up in an urban ghetto, and so many other problems I’m lucky enough that I’m too privileged to ever feel. He’s really turned his eye against America and the problems everyone knows are there but the people in power fail to address over and over again.
Secondly, Kendrick has great rapping skills. He hasn’t got just one flow or rhythm like most rappers, so it’s never boring listening to him! He sounds different on every track and I’ve never been so interested in listening to rap before! Even though I don’t know much about rap, I know he’s a master at it, like I don’t know much about classical music but know Mozart is a musical genius!
Thirdly, every song is like a story, it’s amazing. The way he uses his lyrics takes you through an entire story in each song and teaches you something different about the lessons he’s teaching in the album. One of the songs “For Free” is a cool Jazz spoken word piece that starts off like a regular rap song about sex, but quickly veers into talking about how America’s political system pushes down black people and still treats them as slaves to this day.
“These Walls” talks about having sex with a woman on the surface (vagina walls), but some of the lyrics point to the deeper meanings of the walls that the urban ghetto puts up against anyone trying to better themselves, and then the prison walls that most black people in America are subjected to just by the fact of existing. So many different layers to a song that could just easily be a regular rappers song about f—ing bi—es!
Last but not least there’s an amazing thread throughout the album that points back to the title of the album. Between some of the songs, Kendrick recites a bit of a poem, and he gets further and further along the poem as the album goes on. At the end of the album, he finally goes through the poem and finishes it in one go. Afterwards there’s this masterstroke where he’s put together this skit that he’s interviewing Tupac and reciting this poem to him. The poem is about his journey through Compton and the difficulties growing up there, how he learned to deal with it through rap, learned about the evils of America’s racist political system and came back to Compton to tell his story.
After the interview with Tupac, he reads another poem about the journey of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, and compares this to his journey, and how the music industry and fame wants to pimp him now he’s a butterfly. Hence the name of the album, and everything circles back around.
I mean this entire thing is a story rather than a rap album, it’s amazing. Definitely, DEFINITELY listen to it! I’m also definitely going to go check out his other work now, didn’t think I’d like rap, but the way he mixes Jazz, Blues, Soul and so many other genres is awesome!