Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
Critic Score
Based on 37 reviews
2015 Ratings: #1 / 770
Year End Rank: #1
User Score
2015 Ratings: #1
March 16, 2015 / Release Date
LP / Format
Aftermath / Interscope / Label
Hip Hop / Genres
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To Pimp A Butterfly is ambitious in its attempt to inspire a generation to change the world for the better and poignant enough to actually do so.

Pretty Much Amazing

Its politics may offend and its sonics may perplex, but there is no doubt that Butterfly is one of the year’s most fascinating and impressive musical artifacts.

Time Out London
‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ makes no attempt at the charts, or even hip hop radio. Instead, it’s aimed squarely at the musical canon that inspires it.
This album is mandatory listening; serious rap fans who shun Mr. West due to his interfering personality (or Wayne, Drake, Nicki, Jay and Em) don't have that out here because Kendrick doesn't pretend to be Hova or Yeezus — just another young black man that Uncle Sam's ready to fuck up.

To Pimp a Butterfly is as dark, intense, complicated, and violent as Picasso's Guernica, and should hold the same importance for its genre and the same beauty for its intended audience.

Consequence of Sound
While the album is a lyrical landmark above all, there’s no missing that it’s a rich body of work all around.
The 405
Proving that he'll keep us guessing for years to come, Kendrick has truly solidified his place in rap history with this album.
Tiny Mix Tapes

Underlying To Pimp a Butterfly’s system of contradictions is a narrative of hope against the brutality of the systematic destruction of the unity of the culture, the murderous cops and the drug wars — that hope is in the possibilities of consciousness, that ever elusive revolutionary power that makes us all rulers of this world.

No Ripcord

That To Pimp A Butterfly forces difficult questions both sociopolitical and aesthetic is testament to its brilliance. It is an album that can be, even deserves to be annotated song-by-song, line-by-line.

Drowned in Sound
This is an important – a very important – piece of work that will stand the test of time. It’s also an utter blast to listen to and live with.
Entertainment Weekly

Lamar operates in the same boldly visionary idiom as the Purple One, expanding the boundaries of the hip-hop empire and daring other aspirants to the throne—yes, even Kanye, even Jay—to play catch-up.

NOW Magazine

He meets that challenge - ramping up his musicality with elements of funk, doo-wop, jazz and spoken-word poetry, debuting a dizzying number of new cadences and diving deeper into the ever-evolving question of what it means to be black in America.

The Telegraph

This is a dense, intricate mesh of free-flowing jazz, deep Seventies funk and cut-up hip hop with a verbose, hyper-articulate rapper switching up styles and tempos to address contemporary racial politics in a poetic narrative built around a long dark night of the soul.

The Needle Drop

Several years ago, Kendrick Lamar was hip hop's underdog. Today, he's dropping what's possibly the best rap album of the decade.

The Observer

Jazz is a brave place to go, even for a man from Compton. But Lamar is fearless in his scope here, both lyrically and sonically.


Kendrick stretches his creative legs all the way out on this one, an indication that a new beginning is here.

Every song possesses a distinctive identity, a different color fleshed out by its instrumentation. And the lyrical wonders Lamar works on top of all this is even more worthy of praise.

Underneath the tragedy and adversity, To Pimp a Butterfly is a celebration of the audacity to wake up each morning to try to be better, knowing it could all end in a second, for no reason at all.

A.V. Club

Where Good Kid was a linear story, To Pimp A Butterfly is an 80-minute pileup of loose ends, unfinished thoughts, and contradictions. Lamar will hint at a conclusion, then refute it; point fingers, then redirect them.


With all its superfly flourish and talk of Willie Lynch, Butterfly is heady and ambitious, if not unprecedented as subject matter. As promised, Butterfly is (somehow) darker and more thoroughly conflicted than good kid.


To Pimp a Butterfly is the result of one man’s sprawling journey, but it’s meant to empower us all to take our own. It’s a rare record that gives us a call to action, something to act on after the beats drop out and we’re left in silence.

Rolling Stone

If we're talking insurgent content and currency, Lamar straight up owns rap relevancy on Butterfly, whatever challengers to the throne barely visible in his dusty rear-view.

Slant Magazine

Tidy this album isn't, but like There's a Riot Goin' On or the distended jams of One Nation Under a Groove, the uncompromising messiness is the point.

The Line of Best Fit
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that he did, in the end, make his deal with the Devil. But the result is a really excellent album: uncompromising, thoughtful, and with enough buried complexities to keep people arguing for years to come.

To Pimp A Butterfly is like a modernist novel, one that rewards re-reading, comes with unreliable narrators, has lengthy interior monologues, and embraces a grand narrative.


Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly ... will likely be one of 2015's most discussed, dissected and debated album releases, regardless of genre.

Under The Radar

To Pimp a Butterfly is Lamar firmly embracing his place at the pulpit, looking into himself and out into the world simultaneously, and using his influence to paint a powerful, enduring picture of the black American experience.

Musically, this is vivid, defiantly unpredictable and, if yielded to, completely engaging.

Despite the bold declarations, beautiful beats and brash imagery, To Pimp a Butterfly is not an announcement, it's a conversation.

Crack Magazine

While To Pimp A Butterfly is densely layered, Kendrick Lamar’s core message is loud and clear.

God Is in the TV

To Pimp A Butterfly is a brilliant record where Lamar hasn’t repeated what he’s already done. It’s a dense, unsettling and challenging record; it’s also an extremely compelling one.

FLOOD Magazine

Every genius idea is accompanied by a terrible one, and for that To Pimp a Butterfly is Kendrick Lamar’s masterpiece—fascinating, upsetting, and somehow totally wrong.


Has Lamar followed a classic with another classic? Not quite, but in laying his demons and his contradictions bare, he has stayed true to his formidable talent.

On the evidence of ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, Lamar’s work continues to place itself among the best.
The Guardian

Time will tell whether in decades to come, To Pimp a Butterfly is still being spoken of in the same breath as the kind of epochal albums it’s currently being compared to, but for the moment, he’s certainly achieved his aim in impressive style.


To Pimp A Butterfly attempts to the tackle the issues of the day without recourse to blunt, shallow sloganeering.

Spectrum Culture

To Pimp a Butterfly proudly shows every complexity, flaw and insecurity right next to the boasts, the talent and the brief moments of optimism.

don't trust anyone that gives this below an 80

update: yeah no, this is legendary
Awesome album. So relevant to the times we're in right now. It feels like this is Kendrick's magnum opus. The instrumentation, the arrangements of the song, everything is so fluid. I was a bit overwhelmed at the first listen, but the genius really hit me during the second and third listen. This is probably a very strange comparison, but to me it feels like hip hop's rendition of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall'. There's the same kind of frantic psychedlia in both albums, and they both have recurring ... read more
(Warning: This review officially #rekt by JustAReflektor. Proceed with caution into the abyss.) Ignore the idea that To Pimp a Butterfly is one of the most culturally important albums of the past 20 years. Ignore the fact that Kendrick is one of the most technically excellent and lyrically brave MC's still on the mic. Ignore the courageous free jazz elements, the aleatoric and arrhythmical tendencies of Kendrick's voice and the surrounding instruments. Ignore the fact that the album boasts one ... read more
I think it's funny that loads of you have given it a perfect 10 just a couple of hours after it had surfaced.

Personally I think that Buttefly tries really hard to be universally great and significant, but it somehow fails to deliver when it comes to the classic rap album area - contrary to the GKMC. It lacks hooks, it lacks bangers, finally it's not an easy listening expercience - i do not have the desire to listen to it on repeat.

On the other hand, you just feel the huge ideas behind the ... read more
Please don't kill me I still really like it. Who knows? maybe it'll go up in time. Either way, it's definitely not going down.
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Track List

  1. Wesley's Theory (ft. George Clinton & Thundercat) 
  2. For Free? (Interlude) 
  3. King Kunta
  4. Institutionalized (ft. Bilal, Anna Wise & Snoop Dogg)
  5. These Walls (ft. Bilal, Anna Wise & Snoop Dogg)
  6. U
  7. Alright
  8. For Sale? (Interlude)
  9. Momma
  10. Hood Politics
  11. How Much A Dollar Cost (ft. James Fauntleroy & Ronald Isley)
  12. Complexion (A Zulu Love) (ft. Rapsody)
  13. The Blacker The Berry
  14. You Ain't Gotta Lie (Momma Said)
  15. i
  16. Mortal Man
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Added on: March 11, 2015