What’s been said about Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly has most assuredly already been said: Complex. Ambitious. Avant-garde. There are days when I can listen to it on end; other days, the weight of it makes me turn to something else.
There is one track, however, that I can ALWAYS listen to: Kendrick’s “For Sale? (Interlude)”.
Lucy is all the [things] that I was thinking of that I know can be detrimental to not only me but the people around me, and still be tempted by them. That’s some scary s–t. It’s like looking at a bullet inside of a gun, knowing you can kill yourself with it, but you’re still picking it up and playing with it.
– Kendrick Lamar, as quoted in the Guardian
When I was in college, I struggled to make it to Sunday service. Part laziness, part distance – it just wasn’t a priority for me. That being said, there were days that I needed a word from God. When I was in those moods, I didn’t turn to typical gospel or Christian hymns – I put on John Coltrane’s Love Supreme. His ode to his higher power spoke to me (and still does) in a way that no gospel recording ever has.
Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly isn’t a Love Supreme, but “For Sale?”, speaks to me in a similar way. A morality play in verse, “For Sale?” tells of the temptations of “Lucy” (short for Lucifer) and the promises of material things and the fight to stay true to yourself. Its a struggle I believe we all face and I love Kendrick for being so transparent about it.
“Alright” and “These Walls” rightly get called out as great cuts on To Pimp a Butterfly; I just want “For Sale?” to get it’s requisite shine too.