Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ was released yesterday, one week early. If you were worried it wouldn’t live up to ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’, no need. It’s ridiculously good. Choice collaborators include Anna Wise, Bilal, Flying Lotus, Pharrell Williams, Thundercat, Rapsody, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Terrance Martin, artists conducted by Lamar to create something ingenious and radical. We got in touch with Rapsody, who collaborated with K Dot on ‘Complexion (A Zulu Love)’, to get some insight into the album.
NME: You called Kendrick a ‘light in the darkness’ when tweeting about ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. What did you mean by that?
Rapsody: This album came from a very dark space Kendrick was in after the release of ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’. He touched on those demons on the album, and how he was able to come out if it, which created this stellar project. You don’t want anyone you care for as a friend to go through pain, but the beauty is that he rose and in doing so made something that will bring light to darkness for a whole generation. This album was needed for love, for strength, for the fighters. He is our light. Our hope.
NME: What was your experience of working on ‘Complexion’?
Rapsody: It was great. It was my second time working with Kendrick. It was easy and natural, and I’m excited and honoured to contribute to this project.
NME: What’s Kendrick like to work with?
Rapsody: This our second time working together, the first was in 2011. That was the last time we recorded together since doing ‘Complexion’. He contributed to a mixtape I was working on at the time and he’s a pleasure to work with. One of my favourite people to work with. He’s works hard, and fast. I love the perfectionist in him making sure every line is perfect. That’s part of what makes him the artist he is today.
NME: Did you know about the Tupac imagined interview? What did you make of it?
Rapsody: I did not know about the Tupac interview. I heard the album in its entirety the same time the world heard it. I was speechless. The concept was brilliant and gave me chills. I recall him speaking of a dream he had about talking to Pac. When I heard it, that’s what I thought about. It was the Big Homie giving the next one game, to keep the message and fight going for the people. Passing down the knowledge for the new Leader to survive.
NME: Do you know where Kendrick drew his inspiration and creativity from for ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’? How has he managed to remain top of the game?
Rapsody: I can’t speak for Kendrick and confirm, but it sounds like he drew from his life and everything that surrounded him. Every person he talked to. His inner, most personal thoughts. Musically, he pulled from Parliament funk and soul. They say albums are a snapshot of a particular time in your life. That was the inspiration for this album I would guess.
NME: It’s nice to see a female emcee on the album. The album cover received some criticism for just being dudes. What are the problems facing female rappers? Do you think the culture is changing? What needs to change for it to be more balanced?
Rapsody: First, to stop labelling women as Female Emcees. The term creates divide and has come to box us in as “lesser than” in skill. The culture is definitely shifting. It surely will with the release of ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. But, we as consumers have to put our money behind Kendrick and all artists that like to keep that change going. Instead of putting our energy into talking about everything that’s wrong.
NME: What’s your favourite Kendrick verse on the album?
Rapsody: That’s a tough question. I have several favourites. I love ‘U’ for the raw emotion and honesty, especially the second verse on the beat change. I love ‘Momma’. The way he rides the beat is hypnotising. ‘Hood Politics’ is crazy. There are so many gems to just pick one for me.