Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
Critic Score
Based on 42 reviews
2015 Ratings: #1 / 892
Year End Rank: #1
User Score
2015 Ratings: #1
Liked by 226 people
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.

The Young Folks

At its basest, beyond its incredibly complicated racial politics, it’s an appeal to love, thought, and conversation.

The Arts Desk

The album is steeped in the history and culture of racial politics to an impressive and comprehensive degree, some of it raw and scatalogical, some of it subtly allusive.


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.


Super smart, super funky, To Pimp A Butterfly is the perfect showcase of Kendrick wit and wisdom.


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.

The Sydney Morning Herald

His breakthrough, 2012's Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, used autobiographical details from his youth in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton to provide a tight focus, but the new album is expansive, mixing live musicians and sparse beats with vintage jazz and R&B samples.

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
its weird
People who give this a score lower than a 100 are dumb and idiots and stupid and virgins and no.
Okay, so it's 2019 and I'm sure pretty much everyone has settled on the fact that this is great. Rather than making a repetitive review, I think I'll just list every moment that grabbed my attention after listening to it again for like the 100th time (spoiler: there's a lot)...

Wesley's Theory:
-The faint crackling sounds before and during the Bordis Gardiner sampled part that was kinda distracting
-The Boris Gardiner sample kicking off the album
-That audio glitching effect on the sample ... read more

Monday, March 16, 2015, ordinary day, program revisions, around 8:00 a.m.

Restless sleep, early awakening, little daily look at "Hasitleaked" (at the time I was really stupid) in the unexpected expectation of some kind of leaks. The last Kanye West? The last Kendrick Lamar? The last Young Fathers? The last Death Grips?...
Am I badly awake ? No, the Internets confirm: "To Pimp A Butterfly" has leaked, I give up my lie-in and I ... read more
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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