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Photo Credit: Denis Rouvre/Kendrick Lamar

J. Cole calling “To Pimp a Butterfly” boring is a travesty. (Op-Ed)

Kendrick Lamar’s diss on the track “Like That” with Future and Metro Boomin stirred up controversy between “The Big Three” names in rap: Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and J. Cole. In response to Lamar separating himself from “The Big Three” as an artist with more credentials than either of the other two rappers, J. Cole has released his response in the form of a track titled “7 Minute Drill” that he dropped as a surprise. Cole criticizes Lamar’s entire discography, rapping the verse “’The Simpsons’ / Your first s*** was classic, your last s*** was tragic / Your second s*** put n*****to sleep but they gassed it / Your third s*** was massive and that was your prime / I was trailing right behind and I just now hit mine.”

To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick’s second album, is the “second s****” that Cole is referring to. However, this album is widely considered to be one of the best rap albums of all time. Cole is a great rapper, but he does not contain the unique lyricism and narrative qualities that Lamar’s music has. To Pimp a Butterfly is a concept album where Lamar explored storytelling, and it surely did not put me to sleep. I have this album on vinyl and proudly display it.

“The title grasped the entire concept of the record. [I wanted to] break down the idea of being pimped in the industry, in the community and out of all the knowledge that you thought you had known, then discovering new life and wanting to share it,” Lamar told The Grammy Awards, “I felt like I belonged in Africa. I saw all the things that I wasn’t taught. Probably one of the hardest things to do is put [together] a concept on how beautiful a place can be and tell a person this while they’re still in the ghettos of Compton. I wanted to put that experience in the music.”

To call an album that so powerfully explores the issues of being black in America as boring is a travesty. To Pimp a Butterfly is a work of art, and listening to it is a unique experience that truly takes the audience on a journey through instances of self-doubt, the pain of racism, and the reality of poverty. It’s literary in a way and represents an oral history and tradition so rarely seen in music today. It may not be an album you can blast at a party, but Lamar’s intent was never to make a banger; he intended to share an intimate experience and process intergenerational trauma.


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