Courtesy of Aftermath Entertainment
2. To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp a Butterfly epitomizes the creative shift in the hip-hop industry this year in a cohesive record that is nothing less than cinematic. If you listen to the entire album starting from ”Wesley’s Theory” all the way to “Mortal Man,” you cannot help but feel as though you are listening to a broadway production in which each song is an interconnected scene of dramatic importance. Kendrick Lamar has a storytelling ability so incredible that he can provide more theatrical quality on his interludes than other rappers do on their title tracks. “I remember you was conflicted/Misusing your influence./Sometimes I did the same.” This reiterated reflection, one of the most artistic choices the rapper makes on the album, is first introduced at the end of rhythmatic “King Kunta.” Then, periodically throughout the tracks, the verse is extended to eventually complete an extremely impactful statement, exemplifying this album’s ability to delicately embody current social issues. You can say what you want about the “Black Lives Matter” movement, but you cannot challenge the intellectual quality, narrative value, and raw emotion of this instant hip-hop classic.