Kendrick Lamar recently said that it will be 20 years before people truly understand the impact of To Pimp a Butterfly, including himself, and judging by this new, oral history published in the lead up to GRAMMY week he's right; we keep uncovering layers under layers.
There are some real revelations in the piece, most notably that Prince was originally slated to sing the hook on "Complexion," Thundercat originally told him that he couldn't rap over "real funk" and that it was a trip to South Africa that truly inspired him to make TPAB, but it was this gem that stood out most to me.
The trip led Lamar to scrap "two or three albums worth of material," according to engineer/mixer Derek "MixedByAli" Ali.
Excuse me, I'm sorry—two or three albums worth? As in TWO OR THREE ALBUMS WORTH that he just tossed away, presumably never to be heard? That music is now my Holy Grail. I don't necessarily want to hear those songs because I believe that music is incredible, although it likely is. Often songs that get left on the cutting room floor weren't released for a reason - the artist believed they could do better.
No, I'm more interested in the parallel universe opportunities this presents. What sound was Kendrick going for before he decided to abandon ship in favor of "real funk"? Something closer to what we got on GKMC? And if that album had hit our eardrums instead of To Pimp a Butterfly, how would hip-hop and the world have been different? Would Kendrick have still ended up in the White House? Would we be talking about a Kendrick Lamar who was too predictable instead of a Kendrick Lamar who was groundbreaking?
I guess we'll never know, but that can't stop me from dreaming...