Kendrick Lamar’s 2nd Studio album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ received 12 Grammy nominations by the end of 2015. Including, Best Album, Best Rap Album and I for best Hip/Hop Performance. It debuted at number 1 on the Billboard top 200 and was met with widespread critical acclaim. Receiving a 9.3/10 review from AnyDecentMusic and a 96/100 by Metacritic, making it only the 4th album ever to average over 90% in both review companies.


What these facts tell us is that it can easily be argued that TPAB is easily in the argument for the best album of the last 20 years. This album unlike any other before it uses funk music beats from the mid to late 1970’s. This new idea from Lamar to use these beats makes the album a genre crossing album more than any other. The songs i and King Kunta being the biggest singles from this album use funk beats that have not been heard in music for over 30 years in any album let alone a rap album.


The final reason for it being the best album of the last 20 years is the content of the album and Kendrick’s storytelling style of rap. The album as a continuation of Kendrick’s first project GKMC, tells of his life and struggles through his teenage years. Telling of his feelings and experiences growing up in Compton. It can also be seen to be so important for black culture in America as songs like hood politics and institutionalized speak on the oppression of black people even in this modern age. This makes the message behind the album so important, that black people are butterflies oppressed and not allowed to expand and fly.  


These different aspects make the album so unique and that I would argue is what makes an album great. Think back to Michael Jacksons, Thriller, that was the first example of synths and a blend of rock and pop that had never been seen before. This can be seen in TPAB, no other rap album has mixed 70’s beats with modern day rap. This is what makes it so unique and ultimately the best album of the last 20 years. 

Is ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ the best album of the last 20 years?