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The Deeper Story of Kendrick Lamar’s Album “To Pimp a Butterfly”



The Deeper Story of Kendrick Lamar's Album "To Pimp a Butterfly"

Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly” is meant to be listened to from beginning to end. It tells a poignant story about Kendrick entering the music business and discovering the ugly truth behind it.

Warning: This article contains explicit lyrics.

Kendrick Lamar’s first album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City was a critical and commercial success that skyrocketed the rapper’s career into super-stardom. In addition to featuring crowd-pleasing singles such as B*tch, Don’t Kill My Vibe, the album captivated music purists with an intricate story that unfolded throughout the opus.

Lamar’s second album, To Pimp a Butterfly, loosely follows the same formula, but with an added level of creative madness. The album is more intense, more bizarre, more profound and more controversial. In fact, To Pimp a Butterfly might very well be one of the most complex albums in rap history. Each song is characterized by its own distinctive concept and, on a larger scale, all the songs are interconnected by a wider narrative that revolves around Kendrick becoming a celebrity in a system owned by “Uncle Sam” and ruled by the “evils of Lucy” (a personification of Lucifer).

Let’s look at the story told throughout the album.

Pimping the Butterfly

The album begins with Wesley’s Theory, a bizarre song that introduces the overarching theme of the album: The “pimping” of artists by the establishment (personified by Uncle Sam). The first verse is written from the perspective of an unsigned rapper who is excited to join the music industry.

When I get signed, homie, I’mma act a fool
Hit the dance floor, strobe lights in the room
Snatch your little secretary b*tch for the homies
Blue-eyed devil with a fat a-s, smokin’
I’mma buy a brand new Caddy on fours
Trunk the hood up, two times, deuce-four
Platinum on everythin’, platinum on weddin’ ring
Married to the game and a bad b*tch chose

In the second verse, Uncle Sam responds:

What you want? You a house or a car?
Forty acres and a mule, a piano, a guitar?
Anythin’, see, my name is Uncle Sam, I’m your dog
Motherf*cker, you can live at the mall
I know your kind (That’s why I’m kind)
Don’t have receipts (Oh, man, that’s fine)
Pay me later, wear those gators
Cliché, then say, “F*ck your haters”

And so Uncle Sam encourages the rapper to indulge in his limitless credit card. At the end of the verse, however, he leaves the rapper with a grave warning:

But remember, you ain’t pass economics in school
And everything you buy, taxes will deny
I’ll Wesley Snipe your a-s before thirty-five

Uncle Sam reminds the rapper that he is completely ignorant of the ways of the system and that it can easily spit him out. The line “I’ll Wesley Snipe your a-s before thirty-five” simultaneously refers to two ways the system can shut down a public figure: Through financial methods (the actor Wesley Snipes was convicted for tax evasion using the tax protester theory) and through literal sniping (assassination) before the age of 35.

In For Free? (Interlude), Kendrick repeats the mantra “this d*ck ain’t free” in response to a girl’s materialistic demands. The philosophy is then extended to Uncle Sam himself, where Kendrick poetically states that he won’t be exploited by the system … without adequate compensation. Although the track appears to be about emancipation, it also narrates Kendrick falling for Uncle Sam’s trap. The same way prostitutes tell themselves “this p*ssy ain’t free” before being pimped, Kendrick ends up putting a price on himself.

The Deeper Story of Kendrick Lamar's Album "To Pimp a Butterfly"

The video For Free? (Interlude) depicts an unholy triangle where Kendrick needs to ‘serve’ Uncle Sam in order to please gold diggers.

In short, Kendrick affirms that his privates “ain’t free”, which also means that they have a price … a price Uncle Sam can easily afford.

Appropriately enough, the following song is King Kunta, the most radio-friendly song on the album. On a clean, dancy beat, Kendrick celebrates being on top of the rap game, even boasting that he destroyed the careers of subpar rappers. The title of the song refers to Kunta Kinte, the slave who got his foot chopped off for attempting to escape slavery. Adding “King” to Kunta’s name turns the slave into a King – Kendrick on top of the music industry.

The next songs describe effects of celebrity, mainly isolation. In Institutionalized, Kendrick invites his neighborhood homies to attend the BET awards. When he learns that they are actually plotting to rob some of the rich celebrities present at the awards, he realizes that he cannot associate with them anymore. The second verse is told from the perspective of the homies who cannot stand idly by while riches are flaunted in front of them.

In These Walls, Kendrick indulges in one of the benefits of stardom: Sex with groupies who are impressed by his celebrity status. Playing on the expression “if these walls could talk”, the song actually refers to vaginal walls as Kendrick penetrates them. In the third verse, the song takes an unexpected turn: Kendrick reveals that he is sleeping with the “baby mama” of one of his enemies who is incarcerated. The apparently sexy song, therefore, turns into a cruel tale of revenge where the fleshy walls of physical pleasure turn into the concrete walls of a prison cell.

Kendrick is also however in his own prison: Between the four walls of a hotel room. As we hear Kendrick literally screaming inside a hotel room, the song u begins. Easily the most depressing song of the album, Kendrick talks to himself in the third person, hating what he’s turned into.

I f*ckin’ tell you, you f*ckin’ failure—you ain’t no leader!
I never liked you, forever despise you—I don’t need you!
The world don’t need you, don’t let them deceive you
Numbers lie too, f*ck your pride too, that’s for dedication

The song breaks down for a few moments as we hear a hotel maid knocking on Kendrick’s door. In the second part of the song, Kendrick is dead drunk, still talking to himself and going into the deep end as he’s contemplating suicide.

Shoulda killed yo a-s a long time ago
You shoulda feeled that black revolver blast a long time ago
And if those mirrors could talk it would say “you gotta go”
And if I told your secrets
The world’ll know money can’t stop a suicidal weakness

After the psychological torment of u, the song Alright responds with hope as Kendrick convinces himself that his hardships are all part of God’s plan. The video extends feelings of pride and optimism to the entire Black community in the wake of countless police killings.

The Deeper Story of Kendrick Lamar's Album "To Pimp a Butterfly"

In the video, Kendrick is free as a bird, literally floating on air. He smiles intently as if his life depended on it … because, in some ways, it does.

Despite the positive vibe of Alright, it is during this song that Lucy introduces herself to Kendrick, promising him material gain.

What you want, you a house, you a car?
40 acres and a mule, a piano, a guitar?
Anything, see my name is Lucy, I’m your dog
Motherf*cker, you can live at the mall

Here, Lucy uses the same lines as Uncle Sam in Wesley’s Theory, implying that Uncle Sam and Lucifer are related … closely.

After introducing herself in Alright, Lucy gets particularity insistent in the next song, For Sale? (Interlude).

My name is Lucy, Kendrick
You introduced me Kendrick
Usually I don’t do this
But I see you and me Kendrick
Lucy give you no worries
Lucy got million stories
About these rappers that I came after when they was boring
Lucy gone fill your pockets
Lucy gone move your mama out of Compton
Inside the gigantic mansion like I promised
Lucy just want your trust and loyalty
Avoiding me?
It’s not so easy I’m at these functions accordingly
Kendrick, Lucy don’t slack a minute
Lucy work harder
Lucy gone call you even when Lucy know you love your Father
I’m Lucy
I loosely heard prayers on your first album truly
Lucy don’t mind cause at the end of the day you’ll pursue me
Lucy go get it, Lucy not timid, Lucy up front
Lucy got paper work on top of paper work
I want you to know that Lucy got you
All your life I watched you
And now you all grown up to sign this contract if that’s possible

In this verse, Lucy promises Kendrick wealth, peace of mind and proper handling of his business. She does not mind that Kendrick “loves his Father” (God) and that his first album even had Christian undertones. She simply wants him to sign the contract selling his soul, the rest is irrelevant.
At this point, we understand that, as Kendrick enter deeper into the industry, he is increasingly exposed to raw, spiritual evil. Uncle Sam turned into Lucifer and his record deal turned into a contract selling his soul. Disturbed by this situation, Kendrick goes back home searching for answers.
In Momma, Kendrick is welcomed back to Compton as a hero. In Hood Politics, however, he realizes that his people are up to the same shenanigans as always and that his community is still riddled with the same problems. While he believed he would find answers back home, Kendrick ultimately has an epiphany far, far away from Compton.
In How Much a Dollar Cost? Kendrick meets a homeless man at a gas station in South Africa. When the old man asks him for some money, Kendrick tells him to “beat it”, thinking he was a drunk and a drug addict. When the insistent old man begins citing the Bible, Kendrick gets irritated and offended, stating that he does not give away his hard-earned money to bums. The homeless man then proceeds to reveal that he is God himself … and that Kendrick has lost his spot in heaven.
I looked at him and said, “Every nickel is mines to keep”
He looked at me and said, “Know the truth, it’ll set you free”
You’re lookin’ at the Messiah, the son of Jehovah, the higher power
The choir that spoke the word, the Holy Spirit
The nerve of Nazareth, and I’ll tell you just how much a dollar cost
The price of having a spot in Heaven, embrace your loss, I am God
In the outro of the song, Kendrick repents and asks for forgiveness.
Turn this page, help me change, so right my wrongs
This is the turning point of the album, where Kendrick is faced with his own selfishness and humbled by God himself. This encounter helps him shake off the temptations of Lucy and focus on having a positive impact on society.
The next four songs revolve around the themes of self-love and self-acceptance. Just as Kendrick is learning to love himself on a personal level, he is also urging his community to love itself again. In Blacker the Berry, Kendrick takes on the role of a gangbanger who denounces racism but spends his life at war with his own kind – not unlike enemy tribes in Africa.
So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street
when gang banging make me kill a n*gga blacker than me?
The theme of self-love reaches its paroxysm with i, an upbeat song with a chorus that continuously repeats “I love myself”. i is therefore in complete opposition of u, where Kendrick was drowning in self-loathing. While u was written in the third person because Kendrick hated what he has become,  i is written in the first person, signifying that he is happy and comfortable with who he is. On a wider scale, i urges his community to uplift itself through positive action.
After this self-love celebration, Mortal Man, the last song of the album, serves listeners a strong dose of reality. By rejecting Lucy and by freely speaking his mind, Kendrick fears that he’ll end up becoming a target. Those who speak against the system often feel the wrath of Uncle Sam … and it is often a covert operation. Feeling that his downfall is inevitable, Kendrick asks his fans if they’ll still love him after his name gets dirtied and his character assassinated.
Would you know where the sermon is if I died in this next line?
If I’m tried in a court of law, if the industry cut me off
If the government want me dead, plant cocaine in my car
Would you judge me a drug-head or see me as K. Lamar
Or question my character and degrade me on every blog
Later in the song, Kendrick lists leaders who ended up being silenced or dead in suspicious circumstances, mentioning Michael Jackson who turned against the industry towards the end of his life.
How many leaders you said you needed then left ‘em for dead?
Is it Moses, is it Huey Newton or Detroit Red?
Is it Martin Luther, JFK, shoot or you assassin
Is it Jackie, is it Jesse, oh I know, it’s Michael Jackson, oh
When sh*t hit the fan, is you still a fan?
When sh*t hit the fan, is you still a fan?
That n*gga gave us Billie Jean, you say he touched those kids?
When sh*t hit the fan, is you still a fan?
In the outro of the album, we discover that Kendrick has been reciting throughout the entire opus a poem to Tupac Shakur – who was a major figure speaking out against the system before he killed. That poem sums up the story of the album.
I remember you was conflicted
Misusing your influence
Sometimes I did the same
Abusing my power, full of resentment
Resentment that turned into a deep depression
Found myself screaming in the hotel room
I didn’t wanna self destruct
The evils of Lucy was all around me
So I went running for answers
Until I came home
But that didn’t stop survivor’s guilt
Going back and forth trying to convince myself the stripes I earned
Or maybe how A-1 my foundation was
But while my loved ones was fighting the continuous war back in the city,
I was entering a new one
A war that was based on apartheid and discrimination
Made me wanna go back to the city and tell the homies what I learned
The word was respect
Just because you wore a different gang color than mine’s
Doesn’t mean I can’t respect you as a black man
Forgetting all the pain and hurt we caused each other in these streets
If I respect you, we unify and stop the enemy from killing us
But I don’t know, I’m no mortal man, maybe I’m just another n---a
Both rappers then engage in a surreal conversation about music, society, and revolution, where Tupac shares his views beyond the grave. Then Tupac turns suddenly silent, causing Kendrick to call out:
Pac? Pac? … Pac?!
The album ends with the unbearable silence of Tupac, one of those rare charismatic figures who had all of the qualities to become a great leader – but not the kind of leader Uncle Sam likes. His death, at the premature age of 25, caused a deep wound to the hip-hop community, one that has still not fully healed. The Outro almost masochistically pokes on that wound, reviving the pain of that loss and making us wonder if Kendrick will follow the same path.

In Conclusion

To Pimp a Butterfly can be likened to a musical play, where each song represents a scene of the unfolding drama. Through the course of the sixteen titles on the album, Kendrick describes his rise as a rap star, the temptations he faced with it, the self-hatred that ensued, and the epiphany that allowed him to remain grounded. Although he understands that he is part of a system that is ruled by “the evils of Lucy”, Kendrick feels that his influence can be used to heal, uplift, unify and inspire his community. By becoming an outspoken leader, Kendrick also realizes that he might be sacrificing himself – Uncle Sam and Lucy have no problems crushing those who stand up to them.
In short, To Pimp a Butterfly goes against everything the music business is about. It is harsh, honest, difficult, brilliant, unpredictable, anti-mainstream, Afrocentric, a little religious and filled with clarinet solos. There is, however, one thing Kendrick needs to remember: Lucy does not give up that easily.
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People don't understand kendricks deep meaning in lyrics. That's one of the main reasons I love Kendrick. He is making Hip Hop what it needs to be. He knows how to tell a story and get you to pay attention to detail. He makes you think deep and gives you perspective on what he has gone through and what the world is going through. To Pimp a Butterfly is the most creative and genius album I have ever listened to. Kendrick is the voice this generation needs to be behind to save the world from being ruled by the evils of Lucy. People need to open there eyes and realize the world is not getting any better. They need to realize what life is really about. there are other important things than money and worrying about yourself. It's about being the best person you can be, helping and caring for other people. Kendrick has preached this in his music. So when s--t hits the fan I will still be a fan.


But why is Obama and Jay-Z and all of the clan praising that album so loudly??


good question.


so when they shoot him and kill him it doesn’t look like they hated him and everyone who says what tis article says will just be made to look like your next crazy conspiracy theorist


Because he’s a protege of Andre “Dr. Dre” Young who is a trained MK/ULTRA mind control programmer. Anything that Dr.Dre helps produce is going to be pushed by MSM. The jesters all throughout history were allowed to speak truth to power without the king ordering them to be put to death. That’s basically what this is. The elites do not care anymore if they are exposed because they’ve already been so successful to the point they believe they can’t be stopped.


So basically, everything happening to Katt Williams, Dave Chapelle, and Bill Cosby and the things that happened to Michael Jackson were more of plots by the industry to tear them down rather them being actual truths? WOW


Yes. When you get close to revealing the truth -a truth the elites do not want revealed and exposed for the general public to know and ogle, what’s the next step? Painting the ones pointing the fingers and speaking the truth as molesters or just about anything that will degrade them in the eyes of the public. Think about it. Weren’t all four of the individuals you mentioned once celebrated? But as Katt started to talk about what goes on behind closed doors in the meeting rooms of “big shots” (crazy drug habits at board meetings that they don’t even care to hide from anyone, orgies, etc.) they shut him down. As Michael was near the end of his contract with Sony, he began to speak out on how money-hungry and crippling they were to him as an artist. He didn’t want to continue business with them. They saw the King of Pop making loads of money they could no longer get their hands on. So they killed him. It’s not rocket science. It’s just we have a heart and conscience and wouldn’t dare to do things like this so we find it hard to believe.

vig jr.

Uhhhh……Bill Cosby raped those women. I don’t give a damn what you say.


Lady Gaga’s vocals on ‘B---h don’t kill my vibe’ from his last album and pretty much sharing the song ‘Bad Blood’ with Taylor swift makes me feel as though there is something far more sinister going on. This is one of my favourite albums and I’m a huge Kendrick Lamar fan but as time goes on I’m getting more and more weary of him. I can’t put my finger on it yet but there is an agenda behind this image and message.


The song "Momma" is not just about Compton, but also about Africa("Mother Africa"). Clues of this are the third verse when he's talking to the little boy from South Africa that resembled him, as well as his last lines were he advocates to "tell your homies especially to come back home" referencing for other African Amercians to visit Africa at some point in their lives.

Great article, very good read.


Good eye!!!


Brilliant article VC. The thing is a lot of these rappers/singers subliminally tell us about the occult ways of the music industry through their lyrics, which explains why you have all the esoteric imagery and symbols depicted on their album covers, photo shoots, music videos etc. But also the thing is that a lot of people haven't decoded the lyrics or symbols yet, hence why they still asleep.


I love this article Kendrick is destined for greatness he is the voice of the youth he is not afraid to be his self hopefully he doesn't have a so called suicidal accident or end up slandered by media ❤️❤️


Kendrick Lamar is both the caterpillar and butterfly, and in essence is pimping himself.
I.e (For Free?). In order to enlighten the masses, he needed to be able to get to that level of exposure in order to have the platform to speak as an individual and also do the work that he knows needs to be done. He is a very intelligent young, African American man who understands that his craft is a tool that he can now pimp to his advantage and for his real purpose. Becoming a true leader, something that the elite definitely don't want.


Lucy and Uncle Sam are the same. Lucy = Lucifer and Uncle Sam = Samael (not Sam*u*el), the Hebrew name for Lucifer.

Bevin Chu

Good one!


The crazy thing is this isn't the first time a rapper has alluded to Satan working in the music industry. Look up the songs "Damien" by DMX and my Darling by Eminem. Us outsiders may not know all the details, but these rappers allude to some "contract" or "deal" with the Devil that catapults them into superstardom


"Record Company Rule #380: Record company people are shaaaadyyyyy…." – ATCQ

This theme is RAMPANT in ROCK music as well. Who could forget Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar" and "Welcome to the Machine"? Not to mention all of the hard rock/metal groups who outright praise the prince of darkness. (Surely this makes the industry blokes fap w/ satanic delight, SMH.) The list goes on and on and on….

I'm not super-familiar w/ Mr. Lamar, but his lyrics sound genuinely inspired and are extremely relevant in this day and age. I'd even say he sounds like a "VC-er," or has the spirit and perspective of one. (My only grip is that he uses my middle name, Lucy, in a negative light.)

IDK for sure exactly how these "contracts" play out in the end, but I pray that all of the talent and honest, creative souls out there like Mr. Lamar have, either hold onto, or find their way.

Peace, love and music!


Correction: "either have, hold onto or find their way." 🙂




You couldn’t be more correct. Perhaps the most blatant of them all is Snoop Dogs ‘Murder was the Case’.


I love the way he’s walking us through his story. However, I always wonder when I hear these type of exposing albums/songs or watch certain movies why the elite (who own the record labels/movie studios) would let them even put the “truth” out. The elite are the one’s who foot the budgets so why would they pay to be exposed? Just something I’ve always wondered about when I’m researching.

in plain sight

Because they love to put it out there in the open, “in plain sight”. It’s like a high five to each other and the masses have no idea what it really means.

So many levels

I meant in their* favour


Although he’s exposing blatant truths of the industry, the Illuminati’s hand is in this project. Kendrick sold his soul. He’s being used as a puppy to carrying out his role in the Race War agenda. This pro-black album was constructed for that reason. Kendrick’s Grammy performance for Black Lives Matter, The Oscars not nominating any blacks, Beyonce’s dancers dressed like Black Pathers, Kanye West vs Taylor Swift (Angry black man vs innocent white girl)….Are all part of the Race War agenda

The Winter Soldier

People really need to knock it off with this race stuff….if I hear any more of how privileged whites are I’m going to break something.


The way this comment is so unbelievably accurate is just a testament to how enlightened you are…. I used to be the biggest fan of Kendrick and the whole Hiiipower movement – then – and honest to God guys – God revealed to me that these guys are all apart of the same system. As much as your boy ‘denounces’ Lucy – he still speaks from that watered down Christianity rappers like Kanye and Chance the Rapper have sold to the masses to think they follow Christ when these brothers are quite very anti-Christ. Basically these guys are promoting the Mystery Babylon religion that John exposed through the revealation of Jesus Christ. Kendrick mixes Buddhist thought with Christianity when Paul clearly wrote in Corinthians that Christ has no communion with any other religion or forms of spiritualism which have the form of righteousness – but deny it’s power. These guys promote the freeing of the mind through hiphop, which is a variation on african spiritualism – see Afrika Baambatha – the founder of hiphop, visited Africa to learn about zulu spiritualism and learn how these tribes tapped into ancient spirits for power as warriors and what not, trust me guys… Read more »

Kevin Carpenter

I feel like one of the strategies of deceit from the enemy (satan/lucifer/industry/illuminati) is to illustrate through the artist a sense of conflict over black/white or good/evil. Acting like there is some huge dilemma of choice after the choice has already been made.

That being said, I strongly believe Kendrick Lamar has already "sold out" so to speak, and has been initiated into the ranks of the evil industry. The deal has been struck. He has the fame, he has the success, he has the sex, he has the money, he has the god-less lifestyle…what else am I missing here? His fruit has been bared for all to see.

I'm not saying there is no hope, because there absolutely is through out Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Let's just hope he can have a change of both heart and mind before it's too late.

I'll be praying for him.


I think you need to do a little more research on Kendrick Lamar, my brother. He is outspoken on his belief in God and his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior. Whenever he is praised in interviews he always gives honor and glory to God.

The sex? He just got married to his girlfriend of like 10 years; she was with him since high school before all the fame.

I truly believe Kendrick is one of the few artists in the industry that has been able to keep his faith in God, and get to a position where he can positively inspire a lot of people. The devil may control the music industry, but God’s will for his children is something that no force can stop.


How could you not mention Monarch Programming? Monarch Butterflies retain genetic memory. In Good Kid Maad City, he speaks heavily about alcoholism. Maybe that is why he was chosen. To Pimp A Monarch should be the album title. He is telling the typical rags to riches story about a supposedly poor boy from the ghetto who now has the world at his fingertips supposedly. Much like The Weeknd, Kendrick said he wanted to be the most famous entertainer. He is telling what he is and had to go through to get there. He was raised in Compton by way of Chicago. Many political connections there. From the Bushes living in Compton to Obama's ChiRaq,the Uncle Sam on the front of his album says a lot.


the album was originally title “To Pimp a Catterpillar” the letters form – Tupac. the album was the poem to Pac. the name was changed because he didnt want the attention taken away from the message, that he is fighting the system as himself, not as Pac come back

rapper's rapper

One important fact that all readers would like to know.. Kendrick revealed in interview that the original title of this album was to be To Pimp A Caterpillar (TUPAC) but he changed it to butterfly to represent his own struggle since he is slowly becoming what we see Pac to have been. Interesting perspective that ties this narrative nicely.


This article is very subjective, I can sense how much of a fan the writer is.
It's also annoying how people are ready to forgive anyone as long as they (pretend to) repent.

carolina giannini

you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.


VC, somehow my phone always crashes when I get on your page. It seems like "Lucy" doesn't want me to read your words lol. Does this happen to anybody else? Weird.


YES! my tablet freaks out as well. Glad its not just me!


Same! Takes me a while to get through the article cuz it freezes…but im persistent lol


Really grateful for this article. I knew Kendrick Lamar was trying to tell us something with this album but I’m glad VC as they always do went deeper and told us more about this. God bless you all. I pray more people can wake up in America and the World and realize how Satan wants to destroy us.


Great article…It's funny though that this album has been nominated for 11 grammy's now…makes me wonder what is going to happen….


So I was watching the WIz this evening and 2 commercials for Samsung came on featuring Rihanna. They were very disturbing and it is clear she has sold her soul. Please do an in depth review of those commercials and/or her album. the title and artwork for "anti" is very demonic. Looking forward to your analysis!



I wonder why there are so few comments for this article.

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