The Gang Talks Kendrick (Part Deux)

If you missed last week's Staffchat, we discussed Kendrick Lamar's newest offering, To Pimp A Butterfly. As promised, we're back to talk about more about it.

In our first installment, we covered quite a bit. Again, read it. This week, we covered quite a bit more: the relationship between "For Free?" and "For Sale?," the importance of "Wesley's Theory," Kendrick's mom, the poem that intersperses the record, and quite a bit more about Tupac's guest spot.

Are we going to do this again next week? We don't know, but you better check back to see -- lord knows we probably definitely could. In the meantime, we hope you dig this ongoing conversation as much as we have.


importer [9:02 PM] yooooooo
squints [9:02 PM] sup homies
squints [9:02 PM] obama say what it do
importer [9:02 PM] OBAMA SAY WHAT IT DO
dkataja [9:03 PM] It's Kendrick o'clock again
squints [9:04 PM] indeed it is. there have been some high profile releases this week, but it's still very much kendrick season
importer [9:05 PM] quick bullet point recap of last time or nah?
squints [9:05 PM] some cliffnotes might be in order
importer [9:06 PM] okay then
importer [9:06 PM] We discussed
importer [9:07 PM] -TPAB and its ties to 2014's political climate
importer [9:08 PM] -the album's accessibility
importer [9:08 PM] -the jazz-heavy, Flying Lotus inspired production
importer [9:09 PM] -whether or not it's pretention
importer [9:09 PM] -"u" and "i"
importer [9:11 PM] -and of course the Tupac interview
importer [9:12 PM] found in the end of "Mortal Man"
squints [9:12 PM] solid recap. anyone have anything they want to say about those things before we move on?
importer [9:13 PM] I think we're good for now, but I bet theyll show up again here later on
squints [9:13 PM] yep. so moving on
squints [9:13 PM] one thing we didn't touch on was the relationship between the album's two interludes, "for free?" and "for sale?"
importer [9:13 PM] this
importer [9:13 PM] dick
importer [9:13 PM] ain't
importer [9:13 PM] freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
treske [9:14 PM] Sidenote: My mom has been screaming THIS DICK AINT FREE
squints [9:14 PM] hahaha
treske [9:14 PM] Unfortunately, she refers to him as Lamar Kendrick
importer [9:14 PM] lololol
treske [9:14 PM] You can't win at life all the time
squints [9:15 PM] get mama treske on the staffchat
dkataja [9:15 PM] In "For Free?", I like how it transitioned from a response to a materialistic woman to a direct reference to race relations in America
squints [9:16 PM] i bet there were a bunch of dumbass men's rights advocates who heard the opening to the song and felt "yeah k dot, i feel you" and then completely missed the point of the song
dkataja [9:16 PM] He closes with "oh America, you bad bitch / I picked the cotton that made you rich / now my dick ain't free
squints [9:17 PM] yeah, i felt like that was a perfect lead-in to "king kunta"
dkataja [9:17 PM] haha yeah, the whole point is the last line
squints [9:17 PM] "i worked to get were i am, i'm no longer a consumer but a producer, i've found value in myself, i'm a hot commodity"
dkataja [9:18 PM] "And get the fuck out of my throne"
squints [9:18 PM] and then the most straight-forward statement on the album about running the entire rap game
squints [9:18 PM] yes
squints [9:19 PM] but to tie that in with "for sale?": the fact that "for free?" comes first is so powerful
squints [9:19 PM] finding self value and self worth and self love, and then having "lucy" step in and try to take that right back
squints [9:20 PM] thoughts? because that's a completely disheartening takeaway from the album that isn't immediately obvious due to the space between the two tracks
dkataja [9:21 PM] Self worth's got a price, too
importer [9:21 PM] i also think it shows the growth in the character throughout the album
importer [9:21 PM] the first three songs ( "Wesley's Theory", "For Free?" and "King Kunta") are arrogant and bold shittalkery
squints [9:22 PM] i think wesley's theory is a little more complex than that, but continue
importer [9:22 PM] obviously confidence is high
importer [9:23 PM] and he's dancing on the faces of everyone else around him. in terms of theme, lyrical virtuosity, technical virtuosity, etc
importer [9:24 PM] but what it's just him and the mirror ("u") he begins to become aware of his influence, and the fact that all of the nice riches of the world wont necessarily make him happy
importer [9:25 PM] then he has to face Lucy in "for sale?"
squints [9:25 PM] can i say something about "wesley's theory" before we move on to Lucy?
importer [9:25 PM] sure
squints [9:25 PM] i think it's really noteworthy in that it's a perfect overture for the entire record
treske [9:26 PM] The opening is more stunning for me all the time
treske [9:26 PM] I LOVE the opening
squints [9:26 PM] kendrick comes out of the gate shooting on the first verse, but then the second verse is a completely different direction
squints [9:27 PM] from the perspective of "Uncle Sam," completely shutting down everything he said in the first verse and introducing the second primary theme of the album. first verse sets up the confidence and bravado, second verse is the dark side of that, the opposition
squints [9:27 PM] i think it's completely necessary structural to set up all of the album
squints [9:27 PM] treske, you think the opening supports that reading?
squints [9:28 PM] or anyone
importer [9:28 PM] i see that
treske [9:28 PM] For sure. I mean I am referring to the "Every n* * * * is a star" part
treske [9:28 PM] I just love it
importer [9:29 PM] maybe "for sale?" saves the album from being a clean cut redemption story in that case?
importer [9:30 PM] "u" is rock bottom, but "for sale?", and luci and all she represents, shows the struggle in realizing self love
squints [9:31 PM] selling out as a reaction to a certain kind of emptiness, maybe
importer [9:31 PM] right. there will always be temptation, in the form of $ or sex or violence
treske [9:32 PM] Sorry. I was on the phone with the GF
squints [9:32 PM] or how easy it is for Lucy (the record industry, commercialism) to prey on the disenfranchised
importer [9:32 PM] being treated as a product more than a person
treske [9:32 PM] I like that, but I also felt it was a personal battle between him and Luci
importer [9:32 PM] which the industry is so guilty of
dkataja [9:33 PM] I'm with treske here. I get the feeling it's intensely personal
treske [9:33 PM] I understand what Luci represents generally, but I just feel like a clear battle Kendrick had with himself over the course of a few years to find out what he really was all about
treske [9:34 PM] In the context of hip-hop, to be different and true to yourself can be insanely difficult
treske [9:34 PM] It is a pretty homogenous genre
squints [9:34 PM] yeah, i'm just saying it could be applied pretty generally, where it's easy to get seduced or taken advantage of by "rap culture" when you lack a certain self-love
treske [9:35 PM] Ok
treske [9:35 PM] lol
treske [9:35 PM] we are speaking the same language
treske [9:35 PM] couldn't have worded it better
treske [9:35 PM] So... I did want to raise a point... actually a few
squints [9:35 PM] obviously it's intensely personal for kendrick here, but it's a statement on the industry too. "Lucy got million stories/ About these rappers I came after when they was boring"
squints [9:36 PM] kendrick's fighting a battle that's been fought before, that he's seen
squints [9:36 PM] go ahead sorry
treske [9:37 PM] A major criticism I read from many people that didn't vibe as hard on the album is that there is a lack of radio-ready hits.
treske [9:37 PM] True, the album is much more dense, much more complex, and some songs are just not as listenable outside of the context of the album
treske [9:37 PM] BUUUUUUUTTTTTTTT
treske [9:38 PM] Alright and King Kunta are BRILLIANT radio jams.
importer [9:38 PM] ^agreed. @dkataja and I played these at a party and they bumped
dkataja [9:38 PM] Yelled the whole thing
dkataja [9:39 PM] Stank face, jumpin like a fool
dkataja [9:39 PM] That bass line on King Kunta...how can you resist it?
treske [9:40 PM] And frankly, the idea that Kendrick has made such a funktastic jam and a half with King Kunta, which is subversive and prideful and strong, is awesome. I just love how unapologetically black he is in that song combined with the fact that he knows that song is irresistible.
importer [9:40 PM] Kendrick is excellent at subversion
dkataja [9:40 PM] He's more unapologetically black in Alright than in King Kunta, I'd argue
importer [9:41 PM] Who hasn't partied to "Swimming Pools"?
dkataja [9:41 PM] ^^^^^
squints [9:41 PM] "ignorance is bliss" was next-level subversion
treske [9:42 PM] No I mean, he is smart as hell. But to get back to Alright, that song is the absolute jam of the album for me. Not saying its best, but it passes the windows-down cruising test with ease
treske [9:44 PM] So I do have a theory about Kendrick rapping
treske [9:44 PM] And the poem throughout the album
treske [9:44 PM] 1. I think Kendrick will give us two more albums and then get bored with rapping
treske [9:44 PM] A la Andre 3000
treske [9:45 PM] 2. The poem mirrors the progress of Kendrick line by line. Each song mirrors the lines in the poem progressively. If you look at the poem on its own next to the tracklist, it all makes sense
squints [9:45 PM] so glad we're touching on the poem btw
importer [9:45 PM] crucial
squints [9:46 PM] that was def something i wanted to talk about
importer [9:46 PM] but i think that's deliberate, treske
treske [9:46 PM] Of course it is
treske [9:46 PM] I just think it is cool
importer [9:46 PM] oh I love it
treske [9:46 PM] But any thoughts on the Andre 3000 comp?
importer [9:47 PM] i addressed in the last staffchat that if the album just ended with the poem in its entirely i'd be satisfied
dkataja [9:47 PM] Slightly off topic but gotta say it while we're on "Alright" - my favorite purely musical part of the album is the pause after "In the presence of your chico....." where the music drops out completely
squints [9:47 PM] i doubt kendrick would ever make a Love Below, but yeah. this is the most stan thing i'll ever say, but kendrick is too talented for the constraints of a genre
importer [9:48 PM] i actually can't disagree. I know I said this after good kid m.a.a.d. city, but where does he go from here?
treske [9:48 PM] I low-key adore the Love Below
importer [9:48 PM] i guess I should preface that question by saying i think TPAB is a classic
treske [9:48 PM] But that is an embarrassing part of me
dkataja [9:48 PM] ^^I high-key adore the love below
squints [9:48 PM] oh i love the Love Below, it's incredible
importer [9:48 PM] hey me too!
treske [9:49 PM] ohhhhhh ok
treske [9:49 PM] cool
squints [9:49 PM] just saying it's not something in kendrick's future
treske [9:49 PM] Yeah, but who even knows
squints [9:49 PM] yeah not me haha
dkataja [9:49 PM] Andre was genre-busting in a different way than Kendrick is
squints [9:49 PM] yes, perfectly said
squints [9:49 PM] let's talk about the poem though: has anyone ever done anything like that?
squints [9:50 PM] because it's so genius that it seems simple, it's amazing nobody's thought of doing that
importer [9:50 PM] certainly not in rap
treske [9:50 PM] Lay out the narrative of your album and the crux of it through spoken word
treske [9:50 PM] I love it
importer [9:50 PM] closest thing would be the narrator in Man on the Moon
treske [9:51 PM] But yeah, genius in the simplicity of it
squints [9:51 PM] the closest point of reference i have is the short instrumental that shows up intermittently on Watch The Throne, but that's a terrible point of reference
importer [9:51 PM] hahah i hate that interlude
squints [9:51 PM] (also i thought that instrumental was going somewhere. if only, kanye...)
treske [9:51 PM] Sidenote: Listening to the album... One of my favorite little details is Kendrick's, "West, west, west, west" on "Momma"
importer [9:52 PM] WAIT
dkataja [9:52 PM] I actually read a review of Love Below recently which talked about Andre and Big Boi trying to envision the future for hip hop, but failing to see a future without skits
squints [9:52 PM] i miss skits. unpopular opinion
dkataja [9:52 PM] The poem can be Kendrick's answer to that
treske [9:52 PM] I love skits
treske [9:52 PM] But I also love Outkast more than any other hip-hop thing
treske [9:52 PM] So that is kind of linked haha
dkataja [9:53 PM] Big Boi's kid saying "motherfucka" in the mic on Speakerboxx is hilarious
squints [9:53 PM] best dad ever
importer [9:53 PM] Can we discuss that other than my mom, that Kendrick's mom is the best mother on earth?
treske [9:53 PM] His son's name is Bamboo
treske [9:53 PM] fun fact
squints [9:53 PM] GOT A SON ON THE WAY BY THE NAME OF BAMBOO
squints [9:53 PM] yeah i know the words to "BOB" too
treske [9:54 PM] But hol' up. Why is K-Dot's mom awesome
squints [9:54 PM] i'd say action bronson's mom has given her a recent run, but kendrick's mom on mAAd city was awesome
importer [9:54 PM] In both GKMC and TPAB she saves him
squints [9:54 PM] the last thing she says on GKMC before "compton" is one of the most shiver-inducing things i've ever heard
importer [9:55 PM] Her monologue in "Real" details her thoughts on the world
importer [9:55 PM] and yes, chills everywhere after it
importer [9:55 PM] she does it again in "You Ain't Gotta Lie"
treske [9:56 PM] Yeah, I mean she is great. But my mom shouts THIS DICK AINT FREE while roasting brussel sprouts sooooo.....
treske [9:56 PM] Shouts to Lil' Mitzi
importer [9:56 PM] hahahah
treske [9:57 PM] Anyways, I did want to ask you guys one more questions
treske [9:57 PM] Did you think that the 2Pac thing was creepy?
squints [9:57 PM] god roasted brussel sprouts are the best. anyone who boils brussel sprouts can kick rocks, folks
importer [9:57 PM] a little, but what ghosts aren't creepy?
importer [9:57 PM] literally that voice we're hearing doesn't exist anymore
squints [9:58 PM] i think anything is a step down from hologram tupac in terms of creepiness
importer [9:58 PM] ^
dkataja [9:58 PM] ^^
treske [9:59 PM] True. I guess it is weird. People found it off-putting that he was on there, but it blew me away. I loved it. I had never heard anything like that before. I know what 2Pac means to Kendrick and I didn't think it was creepy at all. IDK.
treske [9:59 PM] It was strange to me that people were weirded out I guess
squints [9:59 PM] i think it's honestly the most important moment of the album
importer [9:59 PM] agreed.
importer [9:59 PM] And it's such a huge unexpected turn
squints [10:00 PM] tupac was such a leader in terms of black solidarity and self love within an entire community. when he got taken away, that was such a setback for more than music, but for an entire group of people
importer [10:00 PM] i'd say the world
squints [10:00 PM] i'd agree with that
treske [10:00 PM] Yeah, exactly. He was also a man of extreme contradiction.
treske [10:01 PM] Prone to impetuousness and materialistic desire while still meaning so much to all those in his community
squints [10:01 PM] but the loss of tupac is a perfect example of what kendrick is speaking against on the album. senselessness that comes from a lack of self love
squints [10:01 PM] (i realize how many times i'm saying self love)
squints [10:01 PM] and that moment is kendrick realizing that that mantle needs to be taken back up
treske [10:02 PM] Spot on
squints [10:02 PM] confession time?
treske [10:02 PM] HIT EM UP
squints [10:02 PM] i've probably listened to more tupac since TPAB dropped than i did in my entire life
squints [10:03 PM] i was always such a biggie fan growing up because he was a better rapper that i never gave pac a fair shake
squints [10:03 PM] but TPAB made me really consider what tupac meant, what he symbolized, and that that overshadows any debate about who was the better rapper
squints [10:04 PM] tupac meant more than biggie outside of the scope of music, and i didn't realize that until kendrick did this
treske [10:04 PM] Yup... I made that exact point in the review I wrote
treske [10:05 PM] It is true. I never understood why there was a debate at all, but you nailed why 2Pac was so meaningful to so many people
treske [10:05 PM] We only had the music to speak to us
treske [10:05 PM] We never had his presence
squints [10:06 PM] biggie never wrote anything like "keep ya head up"
importer [10:06 PM] i think he showed it in a different way
importer [10:06 PM] possibly more immature, or materialistic
importer [10:06 PM] but "Juicy" is really uplifting
squints [10:07 PM] agreed. i'll probably continue listening to more biggie than pac, but i have a new appreciation for pac that i didn't before
squints [10:07 PM] i hope one day kendrick realizes he caused that reaction
treske [10:07 PM] damn
treske [10:07 PM] that was some deep shit
importer [10:08 PM] i think it's interesting how both Kendrick and Pac harnessed social consciousness
importer [10:09 PM] being a socially conscious rapper has bad connotations
importer [10:09 PM] See Cole, Jermaine
squints [10:10 PM] not to keep bringing up "ignorance is bliss" but "The critics are calling me conscious/ But truthfully, every shooter be callin' me Compton/ So truthfully, only calling me Kweli and Common?/ Proves that ignorance is bliss"
squints [10:10 PM] also whether or not j cole is a "conscious" rapper is a debate we can have later haha
treske [10:10 PM] True
treske [10:10 PM] J. Cole blows
dkataja [10:10 PM] COLE WORLD
importer [10:10 PM] our NC readers are gonna be piiiiiiissssssed
dkataja [10:11 PM] doesn't that seem hyper pretentious in context of Kendrick?
squints [10:11 PM] haha especially because he and cole are tight. cole's produced for him a lot
treske [10:11 PM] But talk about black pride in a conscious manner, Black Star with Mos Def and Kweli is the way to do it
importer [10:11 PM] btw Rapsody may be NC's next best rapper
squints [10:11 PM] holy shit yes
importer [10:11 PM] she killed it on "Complexion"
treske [10:12 PM] WOOOOOW
importer [10:12 PM] "Can I speak my Stu Scott?" is so NC
treske [10:12 PM] so true with Rapsody
treske [10:12 PM] amazing verse
importer [10:12 PM] shouts to her mentor 9th Wonder
squints [10:13 PM] really noteworthy that she was really the only guest verse
squints [10:13 PM] (not counting snoop)
importer [10:13 PM] (i loved Snoop's hook btw)
treske [10:14 PM] Well, I have a club meeting with the students tomorrow. We love us some college.
importer [10:15 PM] #OSWID
squints [10:15 PM] cool. so is next week TPAB part III?
treske [10:15 PM] Sooo, just wanted to finish with the statement that the album has aged well over the week (I know, small sample size) but I suspect it will continue. Kendrick's Kid A to his OK Computer with GKMC
dkataja [10:15 PM] Vegas is gonna start an over/under on # of consecutive weeks Earhole talks about Kendrick
dkataja [10:16 PM] AND I'M TAKIN THE OVER
importer [10:16 PM] First rapper with back-to-back classics?
treske [10:16 PM] NOOOOOOOO
squints [10:16 PM] first rapper in awhile
treske [10:16 PM] Eminem
squints [10:16 PM] but not ever
treske [10:16 PM] Kanye
importer [10:16 PM] oohhh that was dumb statement
importer [10:17 PM] my statement not yours
dkataja [10:17 PM] Everybody makes mistakes
squints [10:17 PM] alright squad let's wrap it up. everybody put your hands in the middle
importer [10:17 PM] #smhporter
squints [10:17 PM] on the count of 3
squints [10:17 PM] 1...
squints [10:17 PM] 2...
treske [10:17 PM] lolololol
squints [10:17 PM] 3...
squints [10:17 PM] THIS
squints [10:17 PM] (waiting for DICK)
dkataja [10:17 PM] DICK
importer [10:17 PM] AINT
squints [10:18 PM] goddammit treske
squints [10:18 PM] FREEEEEEEEEEEEE


Again, please read last week's Staffchat. We'll see y'all next week.