Kendrick’s New Album: Ambitious

Kendrick Lamar chose to lead his third album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” with contrasting approaches to black self-empowerment: the radical, unconflicted self-affirmation of “I” and the darker underbelly of violence and hatred that necessitates it on “The Blacker the Berry.” The two singles had a symbiotic relationship – the celebratory singalong of I sounding less like a capitulation to a radio-friendly retro sound and more of a triumph in the light of “The Blacker the Berry”; I’s joyousness justifying the way “The Blacker the Berry” skirted around respectability politics. But if Lamar presented us with two flipsides of the subject in advance of “To Pimp a Butterfly,” the full 80-minute epic itself is an ambitious and at times overwhelming reflection of its multi-faceted complexity.

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