Universal acclaim - based on 44 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 44 out of 44
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 44
  3. Negative: 0 out of 44
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  1. Apr 27, 2015
    This is an important--a very important--piece of work that will stand the test of time. It’s also an utter blast to listen to and live with.
  2. Apr 9, 2015
    Stepping upward into the macro, the album's landmark achievement lies in Kendrick Lamar's elevation of hip-hop into subtle invisibility, his blackness not exclusively tied to the rapper image.
  3. Apr 6, 2015
    It’s precisely those confrontational lyrics that make To Pimp A Butterfly an unforgettable album.
  4. 100
    [A] bravura masterpiece. There is no sugar rush of digital synthetic beats and radio-friendly hooks. This is a dense, intricate mesh of free-flowing jazz, deep Seventies funk and cut-up hip hop with a verbose, hyper-articulate rapper switching up styles and tempos to address contemporary racial politics in a poetic narrative built around a long dark night of the soul.
  5. 100
    Lamar’s earnestness and charisma never waver; as much as he owes to his predecessor, the clearest antecedent for Butterfly isn’t Pac but rather peak Prince. Lamar operates in the same boldly visionary idiom as the Purple One, expanding the boundaries of the hip-hop empire and daring other aspirants to the throne.
  6. Mar 25, 2015
    Rather, it is not a rap album; it is the absolute rap album. There is craft here (and in fact this is the most musical mainstream rap record since Aquemini) but just enough room for it.
  7. Mar 25, 2015
    Calling the album “ambitious” doesn’t capture the order of magnitude with which Lamar has expanded his scope, as he moves from the singular to the plural without ever straying from the personal.
  8. Mar 23, 2015
    As a project that's substantially left-field in good kid m.A.A.d city's wake, To Pimp A Butterfly will almost inevitably receive more acclaim from critics than fans. Kendrick clearly wasn't focused on retaining the considerably large audience he attracted with its predecessor, and the album's stronger for that. Proving that he'll keep us guessing for years to come, Kendrick has truly solidified his place in rap history with this album.
  9. Mar 23, 2015
    While Lamar’s extended metaphor of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly begs for greater self-knowledge and transcendence. That bit might get old quickly. The rest won’t.
  10. Mar 23, 2015
    To Pimp a Butterfly requires an extra commitment. Even the most casual attention to the lyrics can unveil the complexity of Lamar’s critique of institutional racism, consumer capitalism, hip-hop culture, justice, and his own choices as an artist, as a black man, and as a human being.
  11. Mar 23, 2015
    Kendrick can’t be Pac or know everything it took to be him, but he isn’t going to let doubts stop him from making groundbreaking music. With To Pimp a Butterfly, it’s never been more apparent that he’s doing just that and prepared to stride past any and all obstacles.
  12. Mar 20, 2015
    Lstenability is the difference between the majesty of this 79-minute behemoth on paper, and the songs it needs to succeed. So let's give it up to the astounding thicket of music here, the best-produced rap since the dawn of Drake.
  13. 100
    To Pimp A Butterfly is a veritable feast for thought--and there are simply too many loaded couplets and unrelenting sonic fakeouts to be unpacked within the confines of a single review.
  14. Mar 18, 2015
    Lamar sounds simultaneously like a man firing on all cylinders and struggling to keep it together.
  15. Mar 18, 2015
    To Pimp A Butterfly is ambitious in its attempt to inspire a generation to change the world for the better and poignant enough to actually do so.
  16. Mar 17, 2015
    Though not quite as instantly catchy as its predecessor, it expands on its widescreen musical reach and introspective intensity, and sharpens the political perspective until it draws blood.
  17. It's an album meant to be lived with for a long time--one of the few recent hip-hop that’s built to last.
  18. Mar 23, 2015
    Every song possesses a distinctive identity, a different color fleshed out by its instrumentation. And the lyrical wonders Lamar works on top of all this is even more worthy of praise.
  19. Mar 19, 2015
    Lamar’s new album, To Pimp a Butterfly, doesn’t explicitly bill itself as a movie like good kid, m.A.A.d city did, but the network of interlocking dramas explored here feels filmic nonetheless, and a variety of characters appear across the album’s expanse.
  20. Mar 18, 2015
    On Lamar’s longer, denser, and even richer follow-up To Pimp A Butterfly, he stops holding the listener’s hand.
  21. The Wire
    May 15, 2015
    Lamar offers a commitment to effect change through the work itself. Whether or not that's realistic ideal the delivery is so powerful it's hard not to get caught up in the rapture. [May 2015, p.50]
  22. The Source
    May 6, 2015
    Each song means more with reference to the project's overall concept than it does as a standalone record, which shouldn't take away from its impact, but rather speak of the courage of its creator. [Apr-May 2015, p.87]
  23. Uncut
    Apr 29, 2015
    A genuine 2015 classic. [Jun 2015, p.77]
  24. Mar 27, 2015
    To Pimp a Butterfly is as dark, intense, complicated, and violent as Picasso's Guernica, and should hold the same importance for its genre and the same beauty for its intended audience.
  25. Mar 26, 2015
    Where “good kid” was a perceptive look at Lamar’s adolescence in a small part of Los Angeles, Butterfly is a weary assessment of his adulthood, and a world that’s bigger, more complex, and more flawed that he knew. If the albums share anything, it’s that they’re both cinematic. But the movie Lamar is shooting now puts the current era into a more fitting frame.
  26. Mar 25, 2015
    To Pimp a Butterfly is Lamar firmly embracing his place at the pulpit, looking into himself and out into the world simultaneously, and using his influence to paint a powerful, enduring picture of the black American experience. He's ringing the bell, letting us all know that the chickens are coming home to roost.
  27. Mar 25, 2015
    It is an album that both looks back and innovates.
  28. Mar 23, 2015
    At brief points Lamar does err on the side of self-indulgence, but for the most part his grandiosity is matched by his talent. A worthy follow up to its platinum-selling predecessor, To Pimp A Butterfly stands as a fearless and uncompromising manifestation of Lamar's desire to push the culture of rap forwards--a crusade that's as much in his blood as the city of Compton.
  29. Mar 20, 2015
    The urge to greet the commercial and artistic triumph of a major league debut hip-hop album with a subversive stiff-arm on sophomore efforts has notable precedents in De La Soul's De La Soul Is Dead and Digable Planets' Blowout Comb, but few have been as audaciously challenging and heavily layered as Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly, which will likely be one of 2015's most discussed, dissected and debated album releases, regardless of genre.
  30. 90
    The result is a really excellent album: uncompromising, thoughtful, and with enough buried complexities to keep people arguing for years to come.
  31. Mar 19, 2015
    To Pimp a Butterfly is a densely packed, dizzying rush of unfiltered rage and unapologetic romanticism, true-crime confessionals, come-to-Jesus sidebars, blunted-swing sophistication, scathing self-critique and rap-quotable riot acts.
  32. Mar 19, 2015
    Tidy this album isn't, but like There's a Riot Goin' On or the distended jams of One Nation Under a Groove, the uncompromising messiness is the point. The focused and fervent anger, politics, cosmic knowledge, and above all unshakable self-doubt is the point too.
  33. Mar 18, 2015
    It’s a rare record that gives us a call to action, something to act on after the beats drop out and we’re left in silence.
  34. Mar 17, 2015
    With all its superfly flourish and talk of Willie Lynch, Butterfly is heady and ambitious, if not unprecedented as subject matter.
  35. Mar 17, 2015
    This record is so expansive that it's tough to wrestle into shape, even as it overflows with wit, smarts and a masterful skill of the language and phrasing.
  36. Mar 17, 2015
    There won't be another album in 2015 with so much of the artist invested in it: mind, body and soul.
  37. Mar 16, 2015
    To Pimp a Butterfly defies easy listening, but it's deeply rewarding.
  38. Few rap albums are this smart, this detailed, and this concerned with its culture. It's the kind of record that could easily collapse under its own weight, but is repeatedly hoisted up by the impenetrable musical foundations.
  39. Q Magazine
    Apr 29, 2015
    It's a challenging, ambitious combination of words and music that becomes increasingly absorbing over time. [Jun 2015, p.103]
  40. Mar 24, 2015
    Rich in sonic detail à la ’90s Outkast, ’00s Roots and present day Flying Lotus (whose fluid bassist Thundercat performs another star turn), Lamar undercuts his densely layered messages with acerbic ruminations on his newfound celebrity status that may prove polarising, but are never less than enthralling.
  41. Mar 19, 2015
    Time will tell whether in decades to come, To Pimp a Butterfly is still being spoken of in the same breath as the kind of epochal albums it’s currently being compared to, but for the moment, he’s certainly achieved his aim in impressive style.
  42. Mar 19, 2015
    On the evidence of To Pimp A Butterfly, Lamar’s work continues to place itself among the best.
  43. 80
    An album that, lacking the neatly redemptive arc of 'good kid, mAAd city', is also grand and slightly unwieldy.
  44. Mar 17, 2015
    At its best, it’s a howling work of black protest art on par with Amiri Baraka’s incendiary play “Dutchman,” or David Hammons’s moving decapitated hoodie “In the Hood”.... He hasn’t outrun his tendency toward clutter. He is a dense rapper, and even though he’s more at ease with the music now, he still runs the risk of suffocation.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 4386 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Mar 17, 2015
    Run the Jewels 2 + Black Messiah + Random Access Memories + Yeezus + Run the Jewels + good kid, m.A.A.d city + London Zoo + Geogaddi +Run the Jewels 2 + Black Messiah + Random Access Memories + Yeezus + Run the Jewels + good kid, m.A.A.d city + London Zoo + Geogaddi + Amnesiac + Things Fall Apart + Aquemeni + Music is Rotted One Note + The Chronic + Loveless + Laughing Stock + Sign "☮" the Times + Aja + Physical Graffiti + Expensive **** + Innervisions + Exile on Main Street + Superfly + Maggot Brain + There's a Riot Goin' On + Electric Ladyland + The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady = To Pimp a Butterfly

    Full Review »
  2. Mar 19, 2015
    And here we are all surprised by Kendrick Lamar and his third studio album named "Pimp To a Butterfly". What about this magnificent work? It'sAnd here we are all surprised by Kendrick Lamar and his third studio album named "Pimp To a Butterfly". What about this magnificent work? It's a masterpiece of the 21st century, is all I can say.

    The evolution of Kendrick is striking because it is not so easy to make rhymes so good, powerful, pass messages and experiences, share part of life with others, their own feelings facing society. All this in classic beats as Funky, Jazz, Blues and Hip-Hop style 80's and 90's like seeing a contemporary retro coming from one of the best and most revolutionary Rappers of the decade and, excuse me if I'm wrong, of the century.

    This album is already a classic, at least for me. I'm proud to hear that heavenly design everyday tirelessly.
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  3. Mar 19, 2015
    The album was really boring. Kendrick should stick to making bangers like TBTB, this is music made for critics to like and is ignoring theThe album was really boring. Kendrick should stick to making bangers like TBTB, this is music made for critics to like and is ignoring the consumer totally. Full Review »