Damn. The first true and highly anticipated follow-up to the earth-shaking “To Pimp a Butterfly.” The pressure was real but Lamar delivered a solid record analyzing his newfound royalty from the poison of PRIDE to the FEAR instilled from doubt. It’d earn multiple awards, critical acclaim and even the first Pulitzer for music beyond jazz or classical.
Kendrick Lamar’s trajectory over the course of the 2010s is one of the most fascinating of his generation. Being part of the XXL freshman class in 2011, Kendrick was little known outside the west coast. Separating himself from his contemporaries, Kendrick used jazz-esque arrangements and political lyrics that at the time weren’t as cool. His major-label debut was with “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” which was a bit more of an introspective, dark party album but was still rife with the funky mixes and political messaging. It wasn’t until “To Pimp a Butterfly” in 2015 that Kendrick would fully come into his own. Leaning heavily into his unique qualities, he would realize the potential of jazz-rap with the help of funk master Thundercat and others. He also wielded bars like molotovs setting the world ablaze in the name of black nationalism. Kendrick stayed true to his vision, never compromising his art or principles and became the greatest of a generation.