In a shocking ahead-of-schedule turn of events, Kendrick Lamar‘s much-anticipated third LP To Pimp A Butterfly has been released tonight by complete surprise. The album, which was due to go on sale on Tuesday, March 23rd, is currently available for purchase on iTunes.
After the clean version of the LP leaked just before midnight Sunday, the explicit version was also made available and make no mistake: it is legitimate album in its full 16 track glory. And things are exactly as amazing and surprising as we’d all hoped. Album opener “Weseley’s Theme” sets a tone of retro-funk and soul inspiration before dropping into a darker interlude lead by Thundercat‘s pulsating bass work. The track was produced by beatmaker virtuoso Flying Lotus. Things proceed toward the kicked-back funk of “King Kunta,” which already dribbled onto the internet last Friday night, making this perhaps the most hectic, knee-jerk weekend of hip-hop leaks…ever?
All signs point to the album being released early on account of Tupac Shakur‘s All Eyes On Me LP, which was marked its 20 year anniversary on Saturday, March 14th. Lamar himself called the occasion “a very special day,” before tweeting “20 yrs. Later.” The album also culminates in a thrilling Tupac moment that is so moving, so unexpected and so artful that we can’t bring ourselves to spoil the surprise. You need to listen to the closing minutes of “Mortal Man” and feel it for yourself.
From there things only get funkier. Snoop Dogg + Bilal + Anna Wise collab track “Institutionalized” brand new version of “i” rests on the album, featuring a vocal take from Kendrick that varies in small but obvious ways from the single that dropped late last year.
The album takes its darkest early turn with the gut-wrenching, sax-addled slow dirge of “u,” which sees Lamar shouting in his trademark rasp “Loving u is complicated” until the words blur together and all is lost in the Los Angeles rapper’s suffocating lament. Form there and on through the rest of the album, To Pimp A Butterfly proves to be one of the most funky, aggressive, artful and satisfying listens that the hip-hop genre has seen in recent memory. All the world is only on its first listen. Now is the time to put it on and enjoy. King Kendrick has made good on his hype. The crown is his.
After multiple false starts, the album is once again available for purchase on iTunes. Buy it here.
Update: To Pimp A Butterfly is also available for streaming on Spotify.
Update: It appears that the album’s early release was not approved by Top Dawg Entertainment, Lamar’s label. TDE exec Anthony Triffith tweeted the following after both clean and explicit versions went up for sale:
— dangeroo kipawaa TDE (@dangerookipawaa) March 16, 2015
However, Lamar followed Triffith’s tweet with the following remark:
Keep calm. All is well. — Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) March 16, 2015
All is well indeed.