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Just "Marker" Done

Album Review

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Album Review 


Welcome To Album Review, where we look at your albums that you sent in, my name is MARKER and what I want you guys to do is to send in your album and I will review every song and rate them,once that is done, I will rate the album out of 10 and to give a reason for why I like and dislike these particular

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(Suggested By Epic) 



This is Kendrick Lamar third studio album, To Pimp A Butterfly which released in 2015, just four years ago, I'm very excited to go through this because this is actually my first time actually going through the entire album, besides when I heard the main songs of the album. Between the releases of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar traveled to South Africa. Touring the country  and visiting historic sites such as Nelson Mandela's jail cell on Robben Island heavily influenced the direction of the record. The album continues a nuanced dialogue about weighty topics that affect the African-American community. 


So Let's Begin…… 


Wesley's Theory: 9/10

For Free? : N/A

King Kunta: 9/10

Institutionalized: 9/10

These Walls: 9.5/10

u: 10/10

Alright: 9.5/10

For Sale: N/A

Momma: 8/10

Hood Politics: 8.5/10

How Much A Dollar Cost?: 10/10

Complex: 8.5/10

The Blacker The Berry: 9.5/10

You Ain't Gotta Lie: 9/10

i: 10/10

Mortal Man: 10/10


My Review:

Wesley's Theory, For Free?, King Kunta


The first three songs are from the perspective of Kendrick Lamar when he first began becoming successful. He was imprisoned to his environment and succumbed to being pimped. “The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it / Its only job is to eat or consume everything around it, in order to protect itself from this mad city”


These first three tracks are the most funky on the album. Wesley’s Theory is from the perfective before S.80 and GKMC, where he fantasizes about his rap destiny. Sonically, it might be the quintessential song of the album and fits perfect as first on the tracklist, as Kendrick is bringin nostalgic west coast funk back. The song boasts some dope instrumentation, that of mid-90’s Snoop, Dre and Tupac but lacks. On first listens, Wesley’s Theory was my favorite track but after a while it proved to have little replay value compared to the others and was carried heavily by the beat but still a great song nonetheless. Wesley’s theory smoothly transitions into the For Free interlude, Kendrick’s personal favorite track. Kendrick awkwardly delivers a bragadoccious poem to a woman, proclaiming “His dick ain’t freeee”. Kendrick completes his trilogy of pride with King Kunta. Kinte Kunte was a prisoner who had his leg cut off to prevent escape, Kendrick Lamar is also a slave, a slave to an industry, who wants to “cut the legs off him” but K. Dot is claiming he’s still a King. Considering the significance and influence of Kendrick’s predecessor Tupac, he was parallel to Kendrick early-on and saw himself as King Kunta.


Institutionalized, These Walls, U, Alright, For Sale? 


Already surrounded by this mad city the caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon which institutionalized him / He can no longer see past his own thoughts / He’s trapped


Kendrick is now rapping from his perspective on GKMC, if you were to parallel Tupac, it’d be Pac during Me Against The World when he was in prison. He is negatively influenced by the environment he’s trapped in (he smokes, fights and does things he normally doesn’t when with the homies). Snoop Dogg’s hooks perfectly describes the context of the song and in case that wasn’t good enough the poems explicitly tell you. These Walls is the most underrated song on the album. It features a great metaphorical theme with an AMAZING beat, first he’s talking about vaginal walls but later juxtaposes it with prison walls. This song is actually about Dave’s Killer from Sing About Me and how Kendrick is “abusing his power full of resentment” by fucking his girl several times, this is all revealed in the third verse and sets up the theme of U, which is one of the most emotional songs ever performed in hip-hop. Though having similar concepts, It’s not nearly as beautiful of a song as These Walls but it fits the meaning well, it also marks the first time I’ve heard a rapper cry and drunk on a track, something I never thought I’d enjoy. It’s raw, emotional, cinematic, real. Dare I say it was the best song on the album just based off the meaning alone. After the rain, comes the sunshine and Kendrick picks himself up on “Alright”, arguably the catchiest song on the album and the closest thing to a banger you can get on here, it’s a great follow-up to U, where Kendrick is trying to justify his depression and convince himself it will be “alright”. Kendrick speaks on being pimped or trapped but it isn’t until For Sale? where the temptation of Lucy comes directly for Kendrick, the interlude aids in the narrative concept of the album but is skippable after first listen.


Momma, Hood Politics, How Much A Dollar Cost


The evils of Lucy was all around me

So I went runnin' for answers

Until I came home


Kendrick escapes temptation and makes it home. If I continued the Tupac analogy, Pac would be fresh out of jail signed with DeathRow, the biggest rapper on the planet with street cred from the gangs in LA, Kendrick would be just after the release of GKMC, the height of his popularity. In Momma, they’ve been waiting for him and Kendrick tries to act as if he “knows everything” until he realizes he doesn’t know shit. This theme of Kendrick’s ignorance follows through these three tracks and Kendrick gains knowledge throughout.


But that didn’t stop survivor’s guilt

Going back and forth trying to convince myself the stripes I earned

Or maybe how A-1 my foundation was

But while my loved ones was fighting the continuous war back in the city, I was entering a new one


Kendrick’s flow on Momma is somewhat offbeat and the beat is alright, the song is still good as every other song is on the album but Momma was definitely the lowlight. Hood politics has Kendrick going back to hood and boasting his newfound street cred and how he’s “the only nigga next to Snoop that can press the button”. The flow on the verses Hood politics at times is not enjoyable, but the hook is absolutely perfect and this song is arguably filled with the most quotables on the album. To me, the worst two songs were followed by possibly the best on the album. This song is lyrically perfect, the story-telling, the style and delivery of Kendrick is quite elite in terms of not only Kendrick and current rap but all-time. This song metaphorically illustrates Kendrick being baptized, finding God and turning over a new leaf after GKMC. In How Much A Dollar Cost? Kendrick deals with a bum asking only for a dollar and the cocky Kendrick that has returned back to the hood is not having it, the bum however reveals a plot twist that humbles Kendrick and forces him to turn to God and finally BREAK FREE .


Complexion, The Blacker the Berry, You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said)


Now Kendrick is equipped with the knowledge to make him a butterfly no longer victim to the system, he decides to kick knowledges to those in the hood. This represents Kendrick shortly after he visited Africa and Nelson Mandela. Continuing the Tupac analogy, it would be where Tupac recorded his final album Don Killuminati, which has a song “White Manz World” similar to Complexion and Blacker the Berry, also worth noting Pac was the first to have a song with “You Ain’t Gotta Lie to Kick it” as part of the verse but I digress. Complexion has a great concept but is honestly a decent song at best until rapsody comes in with her verse. She completely renegades the track tbh. The Blacker the Berry follows well after Complexion, it’s unapologetic and tackles the touchy subject of racism, which is much-needed during these times. The drums go so hard on the track and Kendrick’s delivery is fierce, it doesn’t have much replay value but I still think it is a near-perfect track, it brings back the earlier concepts in the album but in a more wise manner. You Ain’t Gotta Lie is the most underrated song on the album after These Walls. It’s not standout or over-the-top but it’s smooth and is highly enjoyable. So through this section, Kendrick uplifts the black race through touching on the concepts of colorism in Complexion. Then he speaks on the harsh truths of racism and how although it’s bad we still need to stop being hypocrites in Blacker the Berry and stop killing each other too. You Ain’t Gotta Lie deals with the issue of people in the hood having a tendency to want to be the loudest guy to seem the toughest, Kendrick may be using reverse psychology here by logically arguing that you’ll seem tougher if you chill out, not as advice but as a way to get them to chill out, Kendrick finishes his talk with the hood and in particular gang bangers in the outro of I. 


I, Mortal Man


i was a song that got some flack when it was initially released. People might not be used to hearing positivity in music, especially rap so that’s why I believe it was underrated. I think it’s the most important song on the album (as well as Mortal Man) because it shows the ultimate maturity of Kendrick Lamar as a person throughout the narrative going through Section.80 into GKMC into TPAB. The extra verse and skit at the end of i makes it even better. The interpolation of the hook of the during the live performance was also really dope. When you think i is the most important and mature song Kendrick has on the album it ends with the song that brings the entire album together, Mortal Man. Kendrick sees that in the future “shit will hit the fan”. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, JFK, Huey Newton and Pac were killed. Nelson Mandela got 25 years and even Michael Jackson ended up getting caught in a controversial case. Kendrick realizes if he really wants to become a legend, it’s inevitable that he might get his “legs cut off” by trying to avoid being pimped by the system. The end of Mortal Man brings the entire album together with the poem and conversation with Tupac. Kendrick was fortunate to live long enough to break free from the cocoon.



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