Kendrick Lamar, Future, Meek Mill, Omarion, Monica, Rae Sremmurd, Lil Durk, Dej Loaf, Twista, and Do or Die, Crucial Conflict, Vic Mensa | United Center | Hip-Hop | Chicago Reader
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Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

Chandler West

Kendrick Lamar, Future, Meek Mill, Omarion, Monica, Rae Sremmurd, Lil Durk, Dej Loaf, Twista, and Do or Die, Crucial Conflict, Vic Mensa All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., Oct. 25, 6 p.m. 2015
Price: $35-$149.50
Seven months after Kendrick Lamar dropped To Pimp a Butterfly I’m still no closer to grasping its enormity, which is part of what I love about the album. Following the unequaled success of his breakout 2012 major-label debut, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, the Compton rapper could’ve easily streamlined its weighty, complex lyrical observations of black life into three-minute adrenaline boosts built for pop radio. He actually did that on the breezy “i”—which samples the Isley Brothers but lacks any soul of its own—but despite the two Grammys he won for that 2014 single he can’t help but shoulder the burden of being a rapper of greater influence. Confrontational and sympathetic, biting and heartfelt, musically scatterbrained and sonically powerful, To Pimp a Butterfly puts Lamar’s contradictions, desires, and fears at its center. He’s a guiding force leading us through battle-scarred streets and forcing us to confront societal racism—or understand that we’re failing to transgress it (he holds himself accountable above all else). To Pimp a Butterfly is ungainly, but positively so, and it feels less ambitious than overwhelming in its approach, as Lamar tries to produce an album that mirrors his complex vision of life. Even “i” takes a different shape on the record: it’s made to resemble a live performance, with muddy sound snaking through a crowd of voices, and it shows off Lamar’s ingenuity as a songwriter. To Pimp a Butterfly has become part of the language of people who fight for the lives of others; in July Black Lives Matter protesters in Cleveland chanted the words to “Alright,” using its hopeful message as fuel for the cause.
— Leor Galil

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