Sing Out!’s Best of 2015

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Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

label: TDE/INTERSCOPE/AFTERMATH

When considering what albums made a notable impact in 2015, there’s no question in my mind that Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is a formidable contender and deserves to be on this list. Weaving slowly through the lines of his poem, “Mortal Man,” Lamar revisits Compton, CA, his home town. While his breakout album Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City served as an expose of the troubled city, To Pimp A Butterfly utilizes Compton as a case study, and provides far more worldly insight than previously explored by Lamar. His fame has granted him time to separate from the hardships of living in this turbulent and violent city, and allows him a new outlook on the black condition in America, a continuous struggle he calls “a war that is based on apartheid and descrimination.” Kendrick maintains a humanized, if not uncertain perspective over some of his most poignant observations. He turns to Tupac Shakur, a hip-hop legend who’s legacy is wrought with complexity and controversy, closing out his album with a faux back-and-forth with the deceased emcee. Strewn over a backdrop that combines elements of modern hip-hop, blues, jazz, funk and more, the production behind Kendrick is a grab bag of Black influence throughout American musical history. With each release, Kendrick has set the bar higher for himself and his contemporaries, it leaves us wondering where he, and hip-hop music, can go next. — MH

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