Kendrick Lamar’s razor sharp tongue is the stuff of legend, but now it’s also front cover magazine fodder. K.Dot covers the 56th issue of Mass Appeal and it’s all about To Pimp A Butterfly. The cover itself is photographed by Chris Buck and shows Kendrick biting into a sword. According to Mass Appeal, the idea came from Mick Jagger’s famous picture but also symbolizes “Lamar’s razor-sharp bars.”
The issue also touch on the a deep analysis on the album cover and it’s correlation to Good Kid, M.A.A.d City.
Then it quickly dived into the concepts and meaning of To Pimp A Butterfly. Check out some key excerpts from the story.
On Ice T influence and what To Pimp A Butterfly means:
“I’d be wrong for saying that Ice-T wasn’t an influence on what I’m talking about because [older rap artists], they’ve been there, done that. Especially him, [with] his longevity in the game. I thank him for giving me that game because it’s something that has been goin’ on for a long time, y’know? You take this raw talent and put a price on it, and you’re not rewarded as much as you should be rewarded. This is a God-given talent. The reward should be infinite [for] our ability to think of what we think of, and even more so, how we make people happy. Ain’t no feeling better than that.”
On how To Pimp A Butterfly is the American Dream:
“It’s the American dream because everybody wanna feel like they’re in control of their success. We’re puppets in so many different places [in our lives]. To pimp out something from a negative place and take it to a positive place, that’s what everybody wanna do. Everybody have their own story. I have mine with good kid, m.A.A.d city. You have yours. And to come out of these harsh realities and do something positive, you’re pimping the butterfly. You’re coming out this cocoon of this caterpillar and you’re making the best out of it. Everybody wanna do that.
We’re in a society where we definitely are baited to pump fear and keep the negativity going. To keep the cycle continuing, y’know? It’s a pimp situation. And me recognizing that, it’s the start of something new. To let my people—black and brown [because I grew up with] a lot of my ese potnas in Compton—recognize what’s goin’ on. It’s fortunate that I’m in a blessed situation that I ain’t have to be 40, 50 years old to tell the story. I’m 27. I’m fairly young. A lot of people that tell the story they already old and they really can’t talk to the youth because the youth don’t respect them. I got the power in my hands where the youth respect me. Not only as an artist but as a person. It’s only right for me to put that energy out there, and let ’em know what’s goin’ on in the world.”
On opening with “Every N*gger Is A Star”:
It represents how I felt when I first got signed. That’s the first initial state—you get money, you feel like this. But overall, in general it represents those without money of my color that’s rich in spirit. You don’t need dollars to feel like you have a place in the world.
On respect and gang violence:
I’m gonna put it to you this way. Where I come from I have tons of…history of rival gang activity. From this neighborhood over here killing my uncle to it being a retaliation back and forth. So when I used the word “respect,” it’s a little bit deeper than me speaking of the community or to the community. I am the community. When I say these things it’s a reflection of me first, and coping with the idea or trying my best to respect this guy because he’s a black man rather than not respecting him because he’s got on a different color than mines. Y’know? And if you can’t understand or respect that, then I don’t know what all you have been through in life. You probably haven’t been through nothin’ [for you to take my comments and] break it down in a negative context. Because I got scars and stripes. Whoever want to question [what I said], all you got to do is come down to the community centers and these detention centers, and see what we doin’ with these convicts and these kids out here. See the time that I have invested, and show your face, and then we can debate about it, rather than you just talking randomly.
On be called a sell out when you’re from the hood and trying to better yourself:
It’s not a problem because if you know who you are internally, then what do you care about what other people have to say? I think that’s a level of insecurity that we have in ourselves. How “real” we’re keepin’ it [or] if we’re not “keepin’ it real.” If you’re real with yourself, and know that your heart is in a good place, then you have nothing to worry about. I’ve seen people that I thought was keepin’ it real for years in the streets, but these be the same guys that turn around and do something way out of character that not only mess up their reputation, but mess up the reputation of the guys around them on a street level. My new meaning for “keepin’ it gangsta” is totally different from the usual. It’s really about takin’ care of your family, handlin’ your business, and puttin’ positive energy out there where everybody can benefit from it, not just yourself.
On the response of the album:
I love the response for it. But when you really break down the album, it’s not only for blacks. I have just as equal people outside of my culture understanding the album. This album is more about deciding what you’re gonna do with your fame and your fortune. [Is it] for negative or for positive reasons? When you look at the first half of the album, it’s really me trying to figure it out, y’know? [I’m being] flamboyant, boastin’, being vengeful in certain places. Then going down that line of saying, “OK, I can do something better with it.” So I don’t think it only resonates with blacks, but with people all around the world, man, that can respect the idea of going through a journey or a rebellion, and figuring it out.
On changing the album name from 2 Pimp A Caterpillar:
Well, I just liked the contrast. These are things that I think a long time about. Everything is intricate. I wouldn’t say intricate, but it’s important for me. It was something about “butterfly,” how soft it sounds, and how hard “pimp” sounds. It was just the contrast. That’s how my music is. It’s a roller coaster. It’s cohesive enough, but it’s up and down. You’re going through these different emotions, and I wanted [the title] to reflect that.
On whether he agrees a violent rebellion would happen:
Once the true rebellion happens, there’s no going back. It’s like war with two enemy ’hoods; it basically never ends. And I think it’s enough frustration in the world now if something crack off on a major, major, major scale, it’s gonna be destruction. I’m talkin’ ’bout through the whole world. This is the Rapture. This is God comin’ back and you’re hearin’ the horns and the skies crackin’ open. You dig what I’m sayin’? They puttin’ chips in people’s bodies now, y’know? So with that being said, hopefully it’s more about us as people sayin’, “Enough is enough,” and educating the next man with some wisdom that I have or that you have, and makin’ it a collabo thing where we can all benefit from it in a positive way. Rather than takin’ it out in full rage, like we want to — like I want to, like he want to, like she want to. If we can deal with it like that, then that’ll be a plus on our end. But, if we decide we don’t, then you know what drama that brings.
On what verse he’d want 2Pac to spit on:
You know when the beat switches on “The Blacker The Berry”? I’d have him go off over that, and tone it all the way down, but in his aggressive tone, man. And give it more of a sincere attribute to the song because the song is so aggressive. But you know when he comes on, his spirit is just so warm, he’s gonna speak nothing but the truth. So when that beat breaks down into that, and then goes into “You Ain’t Gotta Lie,” that’s all him.
On the future of the generation:
I think the future of my generation is entrepreneurs times a hundred. We’ll probably be one of the most prosperous generations in history. Not only do we have the belief, but we have the work ethic to go out there and get it. We are very independent. We are very confident in our own identity, which is a great thing. Because what this [generation] has is more people starting their own business and not being confined to what [an existing] company has to offer [them]. But, on the other hand, our belief system is gonna play a major part in it. Our belief system is not the way how my parents were, how my grandparents were, and the more and more time goes on, we lose that thought or idea of God and energy. So what happens is we stop caring for people and we stop honoring and respecting people, you feel me? So I think once we grab that aspect back into my generation we’re gonna be alright.
Read the whole story here.
Photo Credit: Mass Appeal