Kendrick Lamar drops most impressive album to date

Kendrick Lamar is not a kid anymore. It has been three years since the release of “Good Kid M.a.a.d. City,” a brilliant concept album that thrilled me at every turn and four years since “Section 80.”

But that was three years ago. Where do we go from here? “To Pimp A Butterfly” is different. The singles will hardly have any radio play. There are no “Swimming Pools” on this album. This is what proves Kendrick is a man and how he values his culture, community and history.

Lamar understands the history of his people. This album is anti-violence to the max. He knew to use 70s soul samples because this was the era when the Crips and Bloods emerged. He makes a statement on this album about coming together rather than separating each other. I agree with this statement heavily and have 10 times more respect for Lamar.

The album opens with a soul sample setting the whole mood of the album. It is a funk- and soul-oriented journey —emotional and spiritual. It goes on to “King Kunta,” using a “Roots” reference. Lamar talks about how the people he lived with ignored him when he was not famous and now everyone wants him.

On the album he contradicts himself with the song “Institutionalized,” constantly going back to Compton.

“u” is an emotional experience. Kendrick beats himself up describing situations from a drunken friend’s point of view. “The Blacker the Berry” described his anger toward the community and his view on how we need to approach violence and how nonviolence is the best option.

Becoming an adult is difficult, but Lamar proves he is one on this album. A man of his people, he knows his history and art. He reads a poem at the end that presents the origin of “To Pimp a Butterfly.” It is a beautiful, touching statement. He speaks even to his own influence — Tupac Shakur.

To me it makes a huge statement on African-American culture and anti-violence. I love this album. It has inspired me so much and really encouraged me to look into hip-hop records even more than I already do.

Lamar’s lyrics on this album cut into me like a sword. He makes me feel less like I am listening to an album and more like hearing a conversation with him in a beautiful, tear-jerking way.

Overall, this album has many strengths and almost no weaknesses. If you want an album that makes a statement, this is it. I believe this is Kendrick’s best yet, so I’m giving it a 9 out of 10.