Kendrick Lamar x Rolling Stone
Surprise! Kendrick Lamar is featured on the cover of the latest Rolling Stone magazine. In the mag Kendrick Lamar talks about growing up in Compton, and the streets that made him. He also goes in depth about his new album To Pimp A Butterfly, and reveals the origins of the original title. Kendrick even let Rolling Stone hear 6 new tracks.
Lamar also gave Rolling Stone a preview of six new songs from ‘To Pimp a Butterfly,’ in addition to the two already released. The songs range from the intensely personal to the swaggeringly aggressive — like “King Kunta,” which could be the theme song from a Seventies blaxploitation flick. When Pharrell Williams first heard the track, he praised it by calling it “unapologetically black.” “It’s just him expressing how he’s feeling at the moment,” says Lamar’s longtime producer Mark “Sounwave” Spears. “And right now, he’s mad.”
Sonically, Lamar’s new album is adventurous, incorporating elements of funk, spoken-word poetry, and free-jazz, augmented by lots of live playing. (Lamar says he was listening to a lot of Miles Davis and Parliament while making it.) “It’s a unique sound,” says Sounwave. “Every producer I’ve ever met was sending me stuff [for the album], but there was a one-in-a-million chance you could send a beat that actually fit what we were doing.” Lamar’s longtime engineer, Derek “MixedByAli” Ali, says the rapper would often talk in moods: “He would say, ‘I want it to sound eerie,’ or ‘I want it to sound like you’re driving past something.’ Or he talks in colors: ‘Make it sound purple. Make it sound light green.’”
Lamar is vague about what specifically the title To Pimp a Butterfly means (“That will be taught in college courses someday,” he says). But he describes the album as “honest, fearful and unapologetic.” “You take a black kid out of Compton and put him in the limelight, and you find answers about yourself you never knew you were searching for,” he said. “There’s some stuff in there, man. It’s a roller coaster. It builds.”