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Kendrick Lamar on the Creation of 'To Pimp a Butterfly': Was a Lot of 'Throwing Paint on the Wall'



As Kendrick Lamar fans eagerly await the follow-up to DAMN., the elusive artist takes a look back at his body of work. On Episode 3 of The Big Hit Show podcast’s second chapter, host Alex Pappademas continues to unpack K. Dot’s third studio album To Pimp a Butterfly.


As Kendrick explains in the episode, he and his co-creators were able to blur the line between hip hop and jazz by using a group of Los Angeles-based musicians who had been playing together since high school. Kendrick points out that there was no method to the madness. They experimented and essentially saw what would stick.


“Yeah I’m just trying stuff, throwing the paint on the wall and writing as these incredible musicians rock out,” he said. “I like that for eight bars. I like that. I like that. So . . . prior to the album actually coming out the shit actually sounded way more complex.”



In order for Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly to become a reality, Terrace Martin, Kendrick's longtime friend and musician, taught the Compton native all about jazz greats like Miles Davis.


“You know a song that did that was a second record on that album called ‘For Free,'” he remembered. “I was in the studio with my guy Terrace Martin. One of my longtime producers and friend. And he was just putting me up on a lot of Miles Davis at the time. Just really schooling me and educating me you know.

“Miles is playing and you know he’s doing these skats and these rhythms. And man I said to myself, ‘I wanna be able to do that, but I wanna rap that way.’ And you know, be on that cadence and it’s super out of pocket, but you know it’s very jazz, it’s very Miles Davis influenced. And the rhythms were weird, but it was what I was feeling at the time. It was what I was inspired by what Terrace was telling me. He was like, ‘Man, you gotta be unapologetic. If you’re going to go there, you gotta go there.'”


Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, was rated 5.0 at HipHopDX, and earned seven nominations at the 2016 Grammy Awards, including a win for Best Rap Album and a nomination for Album of the Year. Revisit it below.