TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY : In early 2014, the rapper Kendric Lamar traveled to Africa after suffering a mental breakdown related to the stress and guilt bought on by his newfound fame.

There, visiting Nelson Mandel's jail cell on Robben Island, he was hit with a startling clarity.

He decided to throw out several albums' worth of material and instead get to work on a new concept album.

And it might take decades for the world to fully digest all the ways that album, To Pimp a Butterfly, has shaped culture. It opened up new cross-pollinations between hip-hop, jazz and R&B; it spurred interrogations about the corrosive nature of celebrity; and it elevated the 21st century oral storytelling to dizzying new heights.

To Pimp a Butterfly is an epic in every sense of the word. It sprawls across 80 minutes, building a deeply personal narrative about grappling with a survivors guilt while racing through biblical allegory, musings about colorism and vivid imagery of Compton swap meets.

Lamar stuffs so many words, cameos and musical tangents into the album, there's something new to be discovered upon the first, 10th and 100th listen.

But we won't have to wait to understand the impact of at least one aspect of the album : the single '' Alright ''.

Upon its release, the song was embraced as a rallying cry by BLACK LIVES MATTER protesters in marches across the country and around the world.

Since then, '' WE GON' BE ALRIGHT '' has been a defining phrase of the movement, signifying resistance to police brutality, solidarity with those fallen, or simply a self-motivating mantra to make it through the day.

This is the genius of Lamar : to communicate in ways both complex and simple, scathing and euphoric, folksy and avant-garde, memoiristic and universal.

His ability to span and interrogate these dichotomies makes TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY one of the most vital American works ever created.

The World Students Society thanks The Time Magazine.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!