Tag Archives: Kendrick lamar

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

To Pimp A Butterfly is a concept album, so expect spoilers below. If you just need a quick recommendation, go get this album. It’s worth your time. Period.

Lay in the White House and get high, Lord
Lay in the White House and get high, Lord

This is not entertainment. Some songs may be entertaining, at times. But, this is not an entertainment product. This is not music to shake your ass too, although a few songs may inspire some gyrations. Kendrick has set his sights much higher than merely making a fun record, or one with a couple good messages. He easily could do that. Hell, he could easily have simply expanded on the themes of Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. He’s too driven to stagnate. He’s got a world to save…

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The Airing of Grievances Part 1: A Coupla Singles

Festivus PoleFestivus is about having an alternative to Christmas. What I love about it is that instead of pretending that life is all great, it includes dealing with some harsh realities. Cuz I’m that type of morose motherfucker! So, assuming that everyone completed their feasting already, I put up a Festivus pole and now it’s time for the Airing of Grievances, where I tell the world how it has disappointed me this year. I’ll stick with music, but please believe there’s a lot more that I could say.

1. Kendrick Lamar – I

Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album is very highly anticipated because Good Kid M.A.A.D. City is one of the best albums that we’ve has heard in years! And even though I’m very worried that that album will remain a peak that he never reaches again, I still can’t wait to see him try. So I rabidly played his new single, I, hoping for some evidence that my worries were unfounded. Self-esteem was most definitely not on the short list of topics I expected him to attack, but I’m very pleased to see a mainstream rapper earnestly speaking on mental health concerns. It’s a worthy topic that needs to be addressed more often, I believe Kendrick when he talks about it, so this song again puts Kendrick at the forefront of nationally known rappers who actually have something real to say. For those things, I deserves much applause.

BUT

I wish Kendrick was MUCH better at execution!

First, let’s begin where my ears began: the beat. Sampling classic R&B is a very dangerous path to take. Jacking classic R&B might as well be classified as attempted suicide. Recognizable samples unfailingly provide a context that the new song either has to hijack or fight tooth and nail against. Kendrick’s I is terrible because it never became a song outside of the sample, The Isley Brothers Who’s That Lady. The sample is just too powerful to be jacked in so wholesale of a fashion, taking the most recognizable parts (the drums and guitar), for a song about anything other than the sample’s topic. So the sexy guitars from the original ode to a mystery woman create a cool vibe, yet here’s Kendrick talking (in such an annoyingly weird voice) and rapping (well, as usual) about loving himself despite his circumstances and external opinions. The mesh doesn’t work, because that tonal gap is too far for me to jump, so the song ends up feeling corny and sappy. I love the sentiment that went into I, but beyond that I have no interest in this final product.

2. Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow

Actually, there’s a lot of parallels from this song to Kendrick’s latest. The next album is highly anticipated. The song is driven by one huge, classic R&B sample. It’s about issues worthy of discussion.

AND

It also fails in execution. This time, the sample is Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ Wake up Everybody. Just as classic, and just as weird to be used to be used in a rap song. Again, the most recognizable parts of the sample are jacked. Not sampled and chopped, JACKED. But one key difference that makes this song semi-listenable is that the mood and topic match from the sample to the new song. Making a better world is the theme of both songs, and where the original focused on general problems and gave instructions, the Wu’s song spends a lot more time pointing out what’s wrong and is focused on issues directly affecting Black people, like police brutality.

While I’m happy to hear the thematic consistency, I just don’t like the Wu-Tang using this sample this way. It’s too hopeful for everyone’s verses of aimless, nuanceless complaints. Method Man’s verse is at least delivered well but it seems that no one else could muster the energy required for the track’s faster than average tempo. I’m all for Wu-Tang’s version of consciousness. And A Better Tomorrow is a much better mainstream attempt to deal with police brutality than Rick Ross and Game’s trash-ass song. So while I’m happy that the Wu-Tang Clan is back and making more music with a message, I hope that the rest of their album is much better at getting their messages across.

So concludes the first part of the Airing of Grievances. Coming next will be the lambasting of a recent album!

When Did Drake Become Such a Truth-Teller?

Drake’s been in the news lately for some controversial things that he said in a Rolling Stone interview. Number 1, he said that Macklemore’s posting of the apology text message that he sent to Kendrick Lamar after beating him for a Grammy was disingenuous. I totally agree. If he wanted to make a public apology, he should have done it in public from the start, not publicly sharing a private message. I’m trying not to judge Macklemore too harshly, so I’ll just say that that was done in poor taste, and it casts doubts on his motives.

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Kendrick Lamar Tongue-Kisses Your Little Sister In Front Of You

While I was laying back, planning my next album assassination, Big Sean released a song called Control. Normally, such news would not be cause for me to waste any of my words, but this song included not only Jay Electronica, but Kendrick Lamar in his finest controversy starting form. I would say that Sean should be thanking Kendrick for the added attention, but pretty much no one is talking about any part of the song other than Kendrick’s verse. After this embed of the song, I’ll lay out my reaction to it and to everyone else’s reactions:

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