What defines an artist is simple. The artist creates, delivers and he is hated and loved for it. Kendrick Lamar’s 11 Grammy nominations came to surprise many; but did the many sit down and listen to his Grammy nominated To Pimp a Butterfly and love it? Well certainly not as we would love or enjoy an IHeart Memphis’s Hit the Quan. It delivered a raw uncomfortable message, described as overwhelmingly Black. The album is engulfed with the American sound of Jazz, with lyrics founded in truthful emotions of an American struggle and makes it all relevant with poetic interludes consisting of Tupac and ad libs of President Barack Obama. Although Kendrick is by no means the savior of Hip-Hop or the Black struggle in America, he surely uses his platform to express something so real in our current place and time. Without misguiding direction, TPAB balances the chaos on-brought in our most recent times. That misguided direction is a hard line to walk on especially if you are an artist with the whole world as your audience; history tells us an overzealous approach to “The Struggle” gets you shunned-look at Nina Simone. But Kendrick does it effortlessly in TPAB; he takes a suffocating look of what it means to be Black in America. He mixes self-love in track “I”, with rage in the track “The Blacker the Berry” and the pain in his tracks don’t come across as abrasive because it’s poetry. He dissects Hip-Hop sounds; the Blues, Funk, Soul and talks about pain adds Lalah Hathaway and viola, he has a “weapon of enlightment”. It’s a resurgence of the essentials of Hip-Hop, speaking from the heart of a situation that pierces your peace of mind.
Although we didn’t hear this record bump heavily on the streets or in the club and although many Hip-Hop fans are not particularly fond of this Kendrick Lamar album, none of them can argue that this isn’t an album that had the power to get people outside of Hip-Hop to listen. TPAB got 11 Grammy nominations. We love Future but it’s highly doubted his artistry would enable such golden wave of revival and belief in Hip-Hop music such as Kendrick Lamar. Will he win all 11? Probably not, but he got the world listening now-maybe even revisiting again the high art of To Pimp A Butterfly. Hate or love it.