Let me give my friendly opinion on this. This has been bothering me for a while now, and if you don’t know what “this” is, sit tight. Now if you’ve heard anything about Hip-hop, you’ve probably heard these two album names somewhere. Kanye West dropped an album in 2010 called My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. This was right after 808s and Heartbreak, that was received with mixed reviews with a 75 on metacritic, but still sold well commercially. MBDTF, however, was considered one of the best albums to ever be released in hip-hop history. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding this but critics raved over the album, garnering an astounding 94/100 on metacritic. This is easily Kanye’s best work critically, and even consumers deem it the Jesus of Nazareth of Hip-hop. Now, I listened to it and I like it, but I don’t think it’s God’s Gift to Hip-Hop or anything. It’s a pretty solid album, nothing more, nothing less. However it gets comparisons to God’s OTHER gift to Earth, Illmatic. This is where my qualm starts. Now if you somehow haven’t heard of Illmatic, this was Nas’ debut album, considered the savior of hip-hop and the pioneer of a new rap. It’s wordplay, imagery, production and lyrics were all revolutionary. I listened to Illmatic also, it’s solid. Certainly for it’s time I could see why it is so great. It paved the way for a new type of music.
HOWEVER, I heard To Pimp a Butterfly and deemed it the best album I’ve ever heard. One of my peers immediately posed the question “Was it better than Illmatic.” That is what “this” is. Everything being compared to Illmatic as a benchmark for greatness. To Pimp a Butterfly and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy cannot be compared to Illmatic, not because one is better than another but because times are different. I’m tired of people pretending that rap is all about lyrics nowadays, it isn’t. People say Kendrick isn’t the best lyrically, which I could agree. He’s NOT the best lyrically, he has his fair share of clever quips but he is no Talib Kweli or Andre 3k. He’s not going to be on anyone’s best Lyricists list, neither is J. Cole, neither is Drake. If we were talking about lyrics, Joey Badass would probably be the best rapper out right now. In this day and age, Rap isn’t all about lyrics. The genre has evolved to more than just words, with poems, skits, and tones now playing a big factor in many songs. If someone was to release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 1994, people would probably laugh at it. No one in the 1990s wants to hear a song like Runaway on a rap album. Nobody would want to hear Blame Game. They’d probably think it’s the whackest thing and throw it to the side. If someone was to release To Pimp A Butterfly at that time, the same thing would probably happen. They’d probably say “this nigga talkin bout dicks n shit, this shit whack”. I could be wrong but chances are, I’m not. Conversely, if Illmatic was released in today’s time, assuming absolutely nothing changed except the fact Illmatic was release 20 years later, it wouldn’t be the greatest thing hip-hop’s ever seen. Rap is no longer about rhyming A with B and B with C anymore. Kendrick said it best “Critics want to mention when hip hop was about rappin, mothafucka, if you did, Killer Mike would be Platinum.” Please leave Illmatic on it’s hallowed pedestal as the best album in the 90s. Times have changed, Illmatic didn’t age very well anyways.
That being said, To Pimp a Butterfly is album of the decade, if you disagree you must be deaf.
Leave your opinions in the comments below, keep flame to a minimum please.