His Own Influence on the Industry
In the past it has seemed Kendrick Lamar had been the skeptic flag bearer for Hip Hop’s next generation. Tracks like “Control” seemed to say “if no one else is going to do this, I will.” Now, with To Pimp a Butterfly, it appears as if K-dot has come to terms with his (for lack of a better word) responsibility to Hip Hop. This acceptance creates an undercurrent that leaks throughout the entirety of the album, driven by Lamar’s own anxieties about his new (and vital) role in music. On this album, littered with tracks of self reflection, Kendrick calls himself a failure, nothing special, fucked up, insensitive, lacking empathy, and says he should have killed himself long ago. On “Mortal Man” he challenges his fan base on their loyalty to him and his undefined future (When the shit hit the fan is you still a fan?). On “King Kunta” he double checks on those that shower him with acclaim (Now if I give you the funk, you gon’ take it?).
Thankfully, by the end of album, Lamar’s anxieties seem mostly subsided - the closing moments of the album between he and Tupac playing like an extended scene between Spiderman and his late Uncle Ben. Kendrick is our hero, and through the trials, tribulations, and even deaths of other people who have tried to bear crosses - or experienced the “yams” before (Bill Clinton, Kuta-Kinte, Richard Pryor are among those name dropped) instill in him the famous lesson: With great power comes great responsibility.