Kendrick Lamar Decodes His New Album and Reveals Who the Butterfly Is (Video)

Kendrick Lamar came to New York for a few short hours to announce his participation in Hot 97’s 2015 Summer Jam concert. During his stint in the city, he sat down with Ebro, Peter Rosenberg, Laura Stylez and Miss Info for his most extensive interview since releasing his To Pimp a Butterfly Album on March 16th. As with his albums, it took no time for Kendrick to get deep in the conversation.

Early in the discussion (3:00), Kendrick spoke on the meaning of the title of the album, explaining that there were three levels to it. In one sense, the butterfly represents his celebrity and he is using that to do good for his community and the world. In another way, the butterfly represents artists and they are being pimped by the music industry. On a more global level, the butterfly is the urban community which is being pimped by the rest of the world.

Discussion of the title leads to a conversation about the musical direction of TPAB (4:20). Kendrick talks about the soulful sounds around which his parents raised him and how they shaped him as an artist. He also mentions that the album cover features many of his actual friends from growing up (5:15) and is symbolic of their escape and transcendence of their difficult circumstances. When asked if the album is a classic Kendrick emphatically says no…not, yet (6:12). As he did with good kid, m.A.A.d. city, he cautions that the term “classic” is thrown out too easily and says that true classics must stand the test of time. Kendrick also addresses the making of “Mortal Man,” the last song of the album, and reveals how his seemingly real-life conversation with Tupac was created (8:00).

As the interview runs deeper, so goes the conversation. In response to being told that his music is now shaping the political views of an entire generation in the Hip-Hop nation, Kendrick talks about the albums that did this for him when he was younger, naming Ice Cube’s Death Certificate as a particularly influential work (18:40). He also discusses the song “u” and his belief in the importance of addressing the stress that Black men endure and the need for a healthy outlet (19:30). They also have a heavy interaction about race relations and whether things have gotten better or worse since President Obama was elected (30:00).

Near the end of their time together, Kendrick speaks about the changing state of the music industry, addressing Jay Z’s new Tidal music service and artists ability to take more control in their careers (33:00). This is a fascinating watch for any fan of Kendrick or intelligent (Hip-Hop) discourse, generally.

Related: Kendrick Lamar is Running Hip-Hop…Literally. Watch Clips From His Mobile Concert (Video)