The Medieval Times

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The Medieval Times

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The Medieval Times

Kendrick Lamar’s Darkest Opus

“To P*mp a Butterfly” is Kendrick Lamar’s second studio album released March 15, 2015. This album truly changed the audience of the hip-hop and rap music genre, winning Grammys for best rap album, rap song, and rap performance. It went platinum in 2017, meaning it sold one million copies.  


In this album, Kendrick tells the story of a rapper finding fame; learning to “hustle” his talent for material gain, dealing with the temptations that accompany fame and wealth, feeling the burden of his new position of influence and turning to Black history and his roots to try and find guidance.  


“To P*mp a Butterfly” deals with materialism, racism, oppression, and self-love. The title is a clever nod to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and is also a metaphor for the literal hustling of something as beautiful as a butterfly. Kendrick organized this album as a poem; he addresses this at the end of the album on “Mortal Man.” 


Throughout the album, Kendrick speaks about politics using a spoken-word poem that interweaves between songs, leading up to the climax. This poem is wrapped up on “Mortal Man,” where it is revealed that Kendrick was reading the poem to 2Pac the entire time. At the end of “Mortal Man,” listeners hear Kendrick calling out to 2Pac who has, presumably, disappeared into the ether, leaving Kendrick only able to echo his name worthlessly three times. The overall meaning of this track is that people are mortal and cannot live forever. “A man is deliberately designed to be mortal. He grows, he ages, and he dies.” Kendrick said during an interview with MTV.  


When Kendrick wrote “Alright,” he wanted to make sure it had a message. Although, most think “Alright” is about determination, and use it for protesting. This song is about forgetting cold, grim reality and hoping for something greater, even if its for a short amount of time. Throughout this song, Kendrick is speaking to a character named Lucy. Lucy is a character that Kendrick uses as an embodiment of Lucifer, who acts as an inner demon that tries to sway Kendrick’s behavior and actions.  


One of the saddest and meaningful songs Kendrick ever wrote is on this album. On “u,” Kendrick speaks about the complex difficulty of maintaining relationships that involve difficult people. This song is a personal reflection of Kendrick’s own struggles with the consequences of his decisions, and how it leads Kendrick to an inner conflict of understanding, love and frustration. Kendrick reflects on his friends and family, like the abandonment of his daughter because of his own selfishness. To finish the song off, Lamar admits his own mistakes and the need to understand how to love properly.  


This album truly means a lot to me, it got me into Kendrick Lamar, and he is now my favorite artist of all time. “To P*mp a Butterfly” is one of my favorite albums and the greatest of all time in my opinion. Kendrick always puts a unique spin on his albums, and it always makes me want to learn more about them. For example, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” is a movie because Kendrick made it that way by telling a story throughout the album, Kendrick included voicemails from his parents, conversations with his friends, and rapping the story in each song. It’s the same concept for “To P*mp a Butterfly,” but as a poem instead. 


Kendrick puts so much thought and time into his work, much like other artists, but Kendrick Lamar always puts so much meaning into what he does. My favorite song from “To P*mp a Butterfly” is definitely “Complexion.” Kendrick speaks about loving all people, no matter how light or dark. Kendrick always speaks about something serious in his albums at least once, and I believe that’s what separates him from other artists.

Kendrick Lamar made a masterpiece with “To P*mp a Butterfly,” and everyone around the world can see it. It deserves the Grammy, it deserves to be platinum, and it deserves the 4.9-star rating from Genius. Kendrick Lamar will always be one of the best artists, ever. I believe there’s no debate, his story is always so inspiring. A young teen living in Compton, USA made it big by doing what he loves because he worked hard and achieved. 

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