For the 44th instalment of my Monday Download column for RWD Mag I (kinda) wrote some words on the new Kendrick Lamar album To Pimp A Butterfly...
When I woke up this morning to see that Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly had dropped a week prematurely, the second thing I did – after hitting the download button on iTunes – was to switch off all my social media alerts. I quickly got showered and dressed, put my headphones in, left the house and hit play. I wasn’t going anywhere in particular, but I wanted to make sure I gave the album its proper introduction to my life. Immediately I was teleported from the rainy streets of Newcastle to the Southern Californian sunshine.
I probably shouldn’t admit this here, but I’ve been hiding a lot of fellow journalists from my Twitter feed recently (no offence). I feel like being bombarded with opinions and criticisms before first digesting the art, is detrimental. Whether or not we agree with an opinion, hearing it frames the way we listen. When Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late mixtape dropped, I saw a load of Tweets, some said it was his hardest project so far, some said that it was boring, immediately when I pressed play my mind got to work figuring out what was ‘hard’ about it, and in what ways it could be ‘boring’.
I rarely write reviews, although my inbox did contain several requests to write one when I returned home after ‘Mortal Man’ came to and end. A quick Google shows that several sites have attempted it already. I used to read reviews in print magazines back in the day, but nine times out of ten I’d already listened to the album. Reviews are interesting, they can bring context to an album, shine a different light on it and often say more about the writer’s mindset than they do the actual record. But with the speed of the media these days we’re heading towards some kind of combustion. Artists spend twelve to twenty-four months on creating their albums, so is it really fair to come along an hour after listening to it and slapping it with a number and a 500 word write up?