Kendrick Lamar’s third album, To Pimp A Butterfly, was a big change in direction from his 2012 sophomore album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. It found the rapper ditching his previous West Coast influences for a sound based on jazz, soul, funk, and more. The change wasn’t easy for him, requiring plenty of experimentation and trial and error to get it right. During an episode of Alex Pappademas’ Spotify podcast The Big Hit Show, which is studying the seminal album for its second season, Kendrick dove into how he made it work.
“Yeah I’m just trying stuff, throwing the paint on the wall and writing as these incredible musicians rock out,” he said. “I like that for eight bars. I like that. I like that. So… prior to the album actually coming out the sh*t actually sounded way more complex.”
Kendrick then explained how his longtime friend and producer Terrace Martin taught him about jazz. “Miles [Davis] is playing and you know he’s doing these skats and these rhythms. And man I said to myself, ‘I wanna be able to do that, but I wanna rap that way.’ And you know, be on that cadence and it’s super out of pocket, but you know it’s very jazz, it’s very Miles Davis influenced,” Kendrick said. “It was what I was inspired by what Terrace was telling me. He was like, ‘Man, you gotta be unapologetic. If you’re going to go there, you gotta go there.’”
The new episode arrives as Kendrick was announced as one of the headliners for Rolling Loud’s Miami festival.
You can listen to the full episode of The Big Hit Show here.