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Kendrick Lamar / To Pimp A Butterfly
Album:To Pimp A Butterfly Collection:Hip-hop
Artist:Kendrick Lamar Added:04/2015
Label:Top Dawg Entertainment 

A-File Activity
Add Date:2015-04-03 Pull Date:2015-06-05 Charts:Hip-Hop
Week Ending:7 Jun31 May24 May17 May10 May3 May26 Apr19 Apr
Airplays:43422142

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Album Review
lionel hutz
Reviewed 2015-04-03 
Dark, sprawling, deeply infused with funk and jazz (lots of mournful and dissonant horns, lots of classic off-kilter Parliament style backup vocals, etc). Anger directed inward and outward all over, the album runs a wide range of moods, but depression and disappointment are never far away. Like much great hip-hop, samples and borrows from all over and draws in lots of collaborators, but has its own very distinct voice. Kendrick’s writing and delivery are both excellent throughout, making tricky rapid fire raps and cadence shifts sound totally unforced (often catchy), and undercutting his self-righteousness with dark humor, cynicism, self-loathing, and occasional hope.

RIYL: Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Aquemini/Stankonia era OutKast, old Goodie Mob, proggy ambitious hip-hop, funk, bad vibes, the fury and noise of Public Enemy

FCC Clean!

1. echoes of sly w/ “every n---a is a star” (not edited in this one initial instance) opening sample, then launches into dark upbeat funk with classic warped p-funk backup vocals and moog. george clinton lends backup vox and last verse, thundercat on bass. guest voicemail from dre. p-funk and two generations of its kids. 4:47
2. classy lush jazz track in background. girl complaining about kendrick not being good enough for her, kendrick coming back talking about how he’s not having it. 2:10
3. spare heavy hip-hop/post-punk/funk/etc beat gets progressively more lush but stays sleek. the instrumental is the sort of unclassifiable relatively timeless 110 bpm thing that you can use to bridge disparate styles in a lot of directions. kendrick’s in top battle rap form, with veiled allusions to ghostwriting for other rappers, a “smooth criminal” reference, and no patience for being questioned. 3:54
4. contemplative, laid back opening minute, classic p-funk backup vox. flips into something more mournful, gauzy electric piano, jazzy woodwinds, slow strings. bilal on the hook, snoop on the bridge. confusion and uncertainty in a new world. ends in a moment of echo. 4:31
5. slow jazzy intro 40 sec, then launches into uptempo R&Bish track. languid sunny guitar, bouncing bassline with a bit more growl on the hook. bilal and swirling synths on the hook. synth solo breakdown and a bit of filtered vocal from kendrick about 1:30 from the end, turns into vocal gymnastics as instrumental fades out (even this one, all breezy come-ons, sours a bit at the end). 5:00
6. frantic horns in the background, dark piano and bass tripping over one another, ragged vocal texture and self lacerating verse with spoken-word cadence. choir vocals fade up in the background starting around 1:30. fades into radio static and turns into something even slower and more ragged after 2:00, with a bit of new orleans jazz/blues flavor. 4:28
7. slow rolling beat. booming 808 kicks and trappy cymbals/hats. clean rich bass tones, winding jazzy horns. darkly hopeful, drowning sorrows in short term pleasures, worrying about it catching up. flows slip between half and double-time. “tell my momma i love her, but this what i like, lord knows...” seamlessly fuses traits from southern hip-hop and 00’s LA abstract beats. 3:39
8. bright choir “ohs”, panting, clockwork beat. a slurred voice from the heavens checks kendrick’s ego as bright synths and bass fade up (like something from flylo’s “pattern + grid world” ep). twinkling (occasionally pitch bent) keys and guitars in the background (which take over in the end and fall apart). terms and conditions are ironed out with the devil. 4:51
9. loping kicks, clinking cowbell, clicking ticky percussion. slow thick bassline, low shimmering keys. halting flows, occasional backup choir and harmonica. classic west coast backup vox, subtle talkbox on the hook, breezy stones throw type flows from kendrick. fast swirling outro. like what might happen if count bass d and dj quik collaborated. 4:43
10. intro is passive aggressive voicemail over what sounds like a beefed up yacht rock loop, then real song kicks in at :36. medium tempo, ghostly choral pads, icy synths, dj quik-esque bassline and keys, clanky drums. raspy antagonistic verses, shifting cadences effortlessly, talking shit and venting at everyone but landing it and sneaking in some self-criticism too. fall apart/come back at midpoint. “critics wanna mention that they miss when hip-hop was rappin/muthaf--k you, if you did, then killer mike would be platinum”. 4:52
11. uses what sounds like a “pyramid song” sample to me, but not totally sure. clattery heavy acoustic-sounding drums, subtle horn in background, smooth backup vox from ron isley in the turmoil. standoff with a transient over a dollar. 4:21
12. sunny, mid-tempo, mildly propulsive, west coast guitars and synths but east coast sample sounding piano. breakdown in the middle, then bass and drums shift to something 90s east coast. raspy bouncy guest verse. breezy ode to lust and love disregarding color. 4:23
13. happiness is short lived, and this is the big comedown on a record that’s mostly one big comedown. uptempo, heavy pulsing bass, sparse, dark, subtle siren guitar wails in the background. vocals echoed and effected where needed. apocalyptic reggae chatting on the bridge. anger’s mostly directed outward at the outset, but is collapsed in on itself by the end. nakedly confrontational, insoluble frustration with racial politics and hypocrisy. flips and ends pretty with slow shuffling drums and echoed melody/vocals. single #2. 5:28
14. alright, you get another emotional breather after all that. sunny laid back west coast zapp inspired funk. delivery is mellow, not quiet but not loud. as usual, deceptively nimble, weaving in and out of the beat. call and response, textural shifts. a simple request that you be yourself and not front too much. 4:01
15. uptempo acoustic drums and a recognizable isley brothers sample. mostly double-time flows, pretty much the self-affirming opposite of #13. gets stripped down and goes half-time for a bit and comes back up w/ choir vocals and crowd chatter. song proper ends at 3:09, then it’s something like an impromptu rally and spoken word thing for the last couple minutes. single #1. 5:36
16. rolling upbeat lo-fi bass and drums, shimmering guitar sample, great dusty texture. slightly pitch bent horn sample intermittently. occasional bits of rhythm guitar and choral pads. starts out comparing himself to great leaders and gets to admitting he’s being self-aggrandizing. strings later on. song itself is over around 5:12, then turns into extended version of the recurring monologue. which ends around 6:14. and then... it stitches together an interview with 2pac via old audio clips. which is pretty audacious, and i’m still not sure what i think of that. but to its great credit, it’s at least not a disaster of a move, which it could’ve been. 12:07

recommended: 7, 3, 13, 6, 10, 14, 15, 9, any

Track Listing
1.Wesley’S Theory (Featuring George Clinton & Thundercat) 9.Momma
2.For Free? (Interlude) 10.Hood Politics
3.King Kunta 11.How Much A Dollar Cost (Featuring James Fauntleroy & Ronald Isley)
4.Institutionalized (Featuring Bilal, Anna Wise & Snoop Dogg) 12.Complexion (A Zulu Love) (Featuring Rapsody)
5.These Walls (Featuring Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat) 13.The Blacker The Berry
6.U 14.You Ain’T Gotta Lie (Momma Said)
7.Alright 15.I
8.For Sale? (Interlude) 16.Mortal Man