None of us will be perfect. No matter how much we work toward perfection, we will never achieve it. Whether you’re a lawyer, a gangster, white, black, purple or blue, its impossible. We will always be flawed humans, which begs the question: Why bother?
In To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick asks: “Because why not?”
We can spend a lifetime doing incredible things and barely move the needle of humanity progress. Even Kendrick Lamar, one of the most influential artists of his time, isn’t going to stop any wars or pass any bills with some beats and rhymes. But he, like any great musician, can save a kid’s self-destructive perspective on life. He can help someone get through a tough time. He can make someone’s commute shorter or give an outlet from a broken home.
In the grand scheme of things, its a ton of work for essentially no reward. But its worth trying, dammit.
“But iono, I’m not Mortal Man. Maybe I’m just another ni**a.”
Kendrick says, at the essential conclusion one of the best albums of the decade. Well over an hour of beats and rhymes that question our everything from his decision to skype his dying friend to Killer Mike’s underrated popularity, all he has to say for himself is “I’m just some guy.”
What makes Lamar different, however, is how conscious he is of his creative beast—his butterfly. As he beautifully summarizes to Tupac:
The butterfly is caterpillar are separated in how they respond to Lucy (Lucifer). The bulk of TPAB, starting with Wesley’s Theory (referring to Snipes, who succumbed to Lucy), depicts Kendrick’s personal battle with Lucy.
This album, also laced with incredible bars and doused in daring, 70-funk production that would scare most any other artist away, attacks themes and topics from a perspective never really taken from an artist of this prominence—which, to me, makes it one of the best pieces of music made in our generation.