To Pimp a Butterfly

Review Roundup: Kendrick Lamar – ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’

One of the most anticipated albums of the year, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, arrived Sunday night, a week ahead of schedule.

The 16-song set, the follow-up to 2012’s game-changer good kid, m.A.A.d city, includes appearances from Snoop Dogg, Ron Isley, Bilal, James Fauntleroy, and George Clinton. The Compton rapper brings the funk on “King Kunta,” promotes self-love on the Grammy-winning “i,” and even interviews the late Tupac Shakur on the 12-minute closer “Mortal Man.”

In its first 24 hours of release, the album set a Spotify streaming record and earned praise from artists including Justin Timberlake, Pusha T, Ed Sheeran, and Kanye West, who called Kendrick “an inspiration.”

Does K-Dot still wear the crown? The reviews are in.

The New York Times: To Pimp a Butterfly is bigger than any minor intra-rapper friction. An album that asks questions as big as this one does, and that will be heard by so many, is a huge taunt to Mr. Lamar’s peers—it’s a dare to ride along, a dare to be different, a dare to be great.

USA Today: Like Kanye West’s monumental Yeezus in 2013, Lamar has made something that feels truly genre-shattering with Butterfly—further cementing his status as not only one of the most innovative rappers, but artists, of the moment. 4/4

Los Angeles Times: Lamar’s third studio album is a realm away from his breakout 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d city, equally rich and way, way further gone.

Entertainment Weekly: Kendrick grabs the Best Rapper Alive title by the balls on Butterfly. It’s always satisfying to see superstars reach so high.

New York Daily News: It’s an album meant to be lived with for a long time, making it one of the few recent hip-hop that’s built to last. 5/5

TIME: Lamar wants nothing less than greatness, and To Pimp a Butterfly is yet another step forward on that path.

Chicago Tribune: What’s lacking, if anything, is the potential bounty of singles yielded by good kid, but To Pimp… is designed more as a one-sit continuous listen than a collection of radio-ready hits. 4/4

ABC News: To Pimp a Butterfly is a sobering work made with love and endless sonic imagination. It is an incredibly important record that at the same time isn’t afraid to offend. Its aims are above its mere music. It’s a brutally honest, necessary work anchored in social awareness.

Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “King Kunta,” “These Walls,” “i,” “How Much a Dollar Cost”