Nevermind the P-Funk influence, beginning with George Clinton on the opening track "Wesley's Theory", and the soulful and jazzy live instrumentation that punctuates every aggressive, but thought-provoking lyric. Or the lessons sprinkled throughout the album, ranging from the simple yet profound and raw advice from a grandmother ("shit don't change until you wash yo' ass" on "Institutionalized"), to loving one's blackness no matter the hue ("Complexion (A Zulu Love)", which features his female MC twin [IMO] Rapsody), and the barely-known origins of the infamous N-word in a new verse on the album version of Kendrick's Grammy winning song, "i" (I am personally trying to wrestle with this new information and what we all know of the U.S.'s history with the word; I don't think I'll be the only one doing some soul searching on the topic either).
Aside from the subtle vocals by soul royalty, Lalah Hathaway, on AT LEAST three songs, one of my favorite highlights from To Pimp A Butterfly, has to be what the 2Pac references throughout the album culminate to: one of the most brilliant and chilling outros in Hip-Hop with the legend himself having a conversation with Kendrick from the great beyond at the end of the final track, "Mortal Man". It's a meeting of the minds that could have easily occurred in real life, had 'Pac not been gunned down almost twenty years ago. The poem-like passages K-Dot reads to him sum up the essence of this opus: how to navigate becoming a butterfly from being a caterpillar, or as 2Pac poetically put it before, the life of a rose after it has grown from concrete. #RealestNegusAlive
Normally, I'd have a rating that breaks down what should be repeated, skipped or what was the most amazing moments on an album. You do yourself a major disservice if you fast forward past anything; it'd be like skipping a chapter in a book and still expecting to get the full story. There may be tracks that more repeatable than others, but the whole body of work needs to be played from start to finish, without interruption if possible. BUT if you're the stubborn type with a short attention span, check out "For Free? (interlude)", "Complexion (A Zulu Love)", "The Blacker The Berry", the acapella verse on "i" and "Mortal Man", for starters.
Listenable Status (based on # of tracks): 16 out of 16