Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp A Butterfly' Music Review

Get the ABC News review of the new album.

— -- Rapper Kendrick Lamar just dropped one of the most fascinating records of 2015.

“To Pimp A Butterfly” is his chaotic, psychedelic, unapologetically militant, sexually and socially charged follow-up to his breakthrough, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.”

In fact, as strong as that album was, this one is better and more compelling, anchored in retro-soul, funk and jazz. This feels like an updated statement from the socially-conscious works of the late-sixties and early seventies, and it is an album packed with tremendous complexity. This isn’t a record that is easy to consume. It is often coarse and has its harsh moments. But Lamar’s intent is to be honest and never to sugar-coat.

As Lamar says in “The Blacker The Berry,” “I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015.” And yes, this is a record that sometimes contradicts itself. This is an album of obvious black pride and yet, still the n-word is a regular occurrence. Lamar tries to justify this by stating at the end of “i” that the Ethiopian word for “royalty” is “Negus.” This album is firmly anchored in social consciousness. It mixes anger, sadness, fear and wishes for love in a volatile, potent concoction. The authoritatively funky “King Kunta” and the Isley Brothers-sampling single, “i” are both excellent examples of what this collection offers. Within a midst of fury, Lamar declares, “I love myself” in the face of a society that is seemingly against him.

Focus Tracks:

“Complexion (A Zulu Love)” (Featuring Rhapsody) “Complexion don’t mean a thing. /Complexion / It all feels the same.” This is as much an anthem of what we all share as it is potentially an ode to women of different ethnicities. The overall message is to love yourself, appreciate your own beauty and don’t let anyone tell you any different. You are unique and you should be celebrated, but no one is better than anyone else.

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