After toying with us for months about when his new album would arrive, Kendrick Lamar announced the new record would be two weeks away this time last week. That turned out to be a bluff as the new full-length arrived for general release today and has already had the huge impact we were all expecting. Named ' To Pimp A Butterfly', this new record from the LA-based MC matches that same diversity of his previous work but this time it feels like Lamar has more to say.
With samples and influences from the likes of Funkadelic and The Isley Brothers, 'To Pimp A Butterfly' has taken the contemporary sound of hip-hop right back to its origins and used it to create a record with not only a huge instrumental backdrop, but lyrically takes on the preconception of what it has been like to be black and living in America these past few years. While it hasn't been unlike the rapper to take on politics in his previous work, this time it seems to have a far more cutting impact given the stories that have been emerging from Ferguson and New York City recently. The album plays as a snapshot of modern America, mixing the broody underbelly with a danceable flow that seems to represent the positive yet concerning message Lamar is trying to get across.
Musically, the record is a triumph of production. Its eclectic nature and ability to experiment with sounds has this real engaging power to it. Which finds the rapper at the centre not only being tested by it, but also managing to adapt and pull off an exceptional modern hip-hop masterpiece.