Kendrick Lamar's sophomore album, To Pimp a Butterfly, appeared on the iTunes shelves late Sunday night without warning. Lamar had promised the album would be released on March 23 but surprised fans by bumping up the release date a full week.
Lamar announced on Twitter that the album had been released without fanfare or warning:
TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY. http://t.co/jaMCXJ7SNG (explicit version)— Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) March 16, 2015
Fans have been on the lookout for a new Lamar album since he debuted "i" in September 2014. Many expected him to release his second full LP in the fourth quarter of 2014. Instead, he stayed quiet and gave everyone "The Blacker the Berry" as a Valentine's Day present:
Lamar is one of the most interesting rappers in the game right now. His work has consistently drawn on both the history of hip-hop and its tradition of sampling. Hip-hop emerged as a form through deejays playing several turntables at once to create a varied and jerky sound over which artists could rap. Today — partially because the genre has evolved, and partially because of the complicated world of music licensing — hip-hop artists have transitioned from a heavy sampling culture to a heavy beat-making culture.
Lamar didn't make that transition. To Pimp A Butterfly uses carefully chosen samples featuring a range of artists and varying tempos to create an album that sounds much, much older than a 2015 release. It's a grooving album that depends as much on soulful, disco-esque layers as it does on Lamar's flow.