Kendrick Lamar Speaks On The Spiritual Mindstate Behind To Pimp A Butterfly
With the surprise release of To Pimp A Butterfly earlier this week, Kendrick Lamar sat down with The New York Times to give some insight on the album. Rather than presenting the interview in a Q & A format, The New York Times article tells the story of the man behind the album, including his own thoughts along the way. Heads who have heard the new album can probably tell that Kendrick is on a mission to purify Hip-Hop and empower the people, and for Kendrick, this starts with religion.
Kendrick talks about accepting God as a teenager, in a Food 4 Less parking lot after a friend was killed. This revelation may also provide insight into the skit at the end of “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” on good kid, m.A.A.d. city, where Kendrick and friends accept the Lord’s Prayer from an elderly woman after a traumatic day. It also potentially sheds light on the baptism scene in the video for “B*tch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” as Kendrick chose to get baptized and live modestly in real life after the success of 2012’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city. Rather than embracing the wealth and fame his major-label debut propelled him into, Kendrick now sees himself as “the closest thing to a preacher” many of his fans have, saying “my word will never be as strong as God’s word. All I am is just a vessel, doing his work.”
To Pimp A Butterfly sees Kendrick experiencing “survivor’s guilt” from escaping the streets of Compton, and he talks about feeling unprepared for the uncertainty and depression that came with being accepted as the voice for his community. On trying to tie his emotions to his music and make it connect with his fans: “I have to make it where you truly understand: This is me pouring out my soul on the record. You’re gonna feel it because you too have pain. It might not be like mine, but you’re gonna feel it.”
The album also focuses on racial inequality, as Kendrick speaks on his personal experiences with the police, including his first of two house-raids at the age of 15. “I’ve been stomped in the back. I’m not talking to people from the suburbs, I’m talking as somebody who’s been snatched out of cars and had rifles pointed at me.”
Going back to the album itself, Kendrick says the cover art (pictured above) represents him “taking the same things that people call bad and bringing them with me to the next level, whether it’s around the world or to the Grammys or the White House. You can’t change where I come from or who I care about.” He says his inspiration for this album is “giving thought and game to people who don’t have it” and also “putting in the real work with these kids and these ex-convicts.” When you listen to the album, he says “I want you to get angry — I want you to get happy. I want you to feel disgusted. I want you to feel uncomfortable.”
To get the full story, be sure to read the full New York Times article here.