Albums for the Apocalypse #1: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’

March 22, 2020 | By

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As many- ideally all- of you are practicing social distancing and self-imposedly bound to your own homes, it’s likely that you’re beginning to get bored. Bored of watching the same TV shows, eating the same meals, having the same conversations with the other residents of your home and most annoyingly bored of listening to the same music over and over again; slowly turning your reaction to a favorite song into something resembling the one that you have when you hear an alarm clock go off.

In an attempt to sidestep the monotony of nothingness brought about by relative isolation, myself and other members of the WXCI community have decided to begin utilizing the stations semi-defunct website to reach listeners. On the site, we will regularly (admittedly without sticking to any specific schedule) be posting new content while the station remains inaccessible. Chief among these postings, will be a segment entitled Albums for the Apocalypse, in which members of the staff will be sharing some of their favorite records with our community to help pass the time spent in confinement.

For the first album in this series, I went a different route than listeners of my show would expect, deciding to pick something agreeable- at least by my own standards. If you haven’t heard this one in its entirety, you must surely have caught wind of the exuberant praise it received upon its release. A record that is as cinematic at times as it is melodic, Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly is a record that will envelop you within its cohesive narrative and help you escape from the reality of being trapped inside your own home for its hour-and-change runtime.

I recall TPAB being the first album I ever spent my own money to purchase on wax after initially receiving my starter record player a few days prior as a late-Hanukkah gift. Giving it a cursory listen when I got home, it presented a blend of Hip/Hop, R&B, Jazz, Funk and complex storytelling that would have never occurred to my fifteen-year-old mind. I felt as though I had never before truly understood what music was capable of and proceeded to throw my only other record at the time (a used copy of Led Zeppelin’s IV) out the window. Now that last part may very well be fabricated (IV is a brilliant record), but I think you get the point.

In the months that followed my first listen, I played the record countless times, coming to memorize all of the lyrics and decode the mythology behind each bar I could. Nowadays, it seldom sees the surface of my turntable. This is not out of disenchantment, but rather of preservation. I treat that particular album as many would do an expensive fine wine; only breaking it out on special occasions.

When faced with the inevitability of having to stay at home for the indefinite future, I thought it was as good a time as any to break out TPAB. Of course, the record blew me away again as expected, revealing different aspects of itself to me that I had never considered on previous listens. Par for the course. After finishing, I came to the conclusion that it consists of everything one needs to hear while quarantining: songs to jam out to, songs to think about, songs to cry about, songs to party to and something of a podcast to wrap the whole thing up.

If you don’t understand the reference, just listen to the album already. Or don’t, it’s not like I would come to your house and make you. Actually, it’s not like I would leave my house at all, isn’t that the point?

-DJ Straight Edge


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Category: Reviews