Seven years after its release, Kendrick Lamar is exploring the creation behind his critically acclaimed sophomore album, To Pimp A Butterfly.
In a new Spotify six part series hosted by New York Times contributor Alex Pappademas, The Compton rapper refelcts on the album’s creation and what made it a commercial success.
“Well, you know what’s funny, man, after my first album good kid, m.A.A.d city was, like, a super commercial success…I knew I wouldn’t be able to give that experience again. You know, in hip-hop we have this thing, the sophomore jinx. So I took it upon myself, I need to do something that inspires me, you know, and talk about what’s right now, what’s present for me,” Kendrick said around the 46:36 mark. “So, as funny as it may sound, I’ve had a hard time expressing that vulnerability, you know, coming up in person with people. But I found a way to express it through music. That was my way of communicating.”
K.Dot also mentioned his 2014 trip to South Africa had a huge influence on the album and his life.
“I knew these things were true to me, and I knew it would be true to the listener,” he said. “And whatever accolades and success came behind it, that was secondary. But I made sure I wanted to express myself in a way that was present. Because I feel like if I tried to remake my first album again, nobody would’ve felt it ’cause I wasn’t even in that head space to do that, so having that visit to South Africa, it really…not only catapulted that album, but my experience as a human.”
Episode one titled “Hello Kendrick” also finds Alex speaking with Kendrick Lamar’s manager Dave Free, Top Dawg Entertainment President Terrence “Punch” Henderson Jr., music producer Sounwave, Hip Hop artist Rapsody, Funk legend George Clinton, and Flying Lotus.
To Pimp a Butterfly debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 324,000 first-week copies sold. The album won five Grammy awards at the 2016 Grammys, including Best Rap Album.
Listen to the full episode one below.