“Remember the first time you came out to the house? / You said you wanted a spot like mine / But remember, anybody can get it / The hard part is keeping it, motherfucker,” Dr. Dre says on Wesley’s Theory, the funk-indebted opening cut on Kendrick Lamar’s perfect follow-up to Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.
On To Pimp A Butterfly, he meets that challenge – ramping up his musicality with elements of funk, doo-wop, jazz and spoken-word poetry, debuting a dizzying number of new cadences and diving deeper into the ever-evolving question of what it means to be black in America and the social issues that have lassoed his hometown of Compton in a painful cycle of poverty.
Lamar sounds simultaneously like a man firing on all cylinders and struggling to keep it together. It all comes to a head on Mortal Man, a 12-minute track that’s part interview with Tupac, part challenge to his fan base and part manifesto.
Top track: Mortal Man