Mass Appeal: Let’s talk about the meaning of the phrase “To Pimp A Butterfly.” It could mean using your talent to do good for you and your people, or it could be about the music industry pimping artists. As Ice-T said in Pimps Up, Ho’s Down, he knew the label was pimping him and his objective was “to get to the point where I could pimp myself.” Is that similar to what you’re saying?
Kendrick Lamar: That’s definitely similar. Whether I knew it or not, I’d be wrong for saying that Ice-T wasn’t an influence on what I’m talking about because [older rap artists], they’ve been there, done that. Especially him, [with] his longevity in the game. I thank him for giving me that game because it’s something that has been goin’ on for a long time, y’know? You take this raw talent and put a price on it, and you’re not rewarded as much as you should be rewarded. This is a God-given talent. The reward should be infinite [for] our ability to think of what we think of, and even more so, how we make people happy. Ain’t no feeling better than that.
When the album cover was posted up on Instagram, you had a message on there (attributed to the “Lil Homie”) that said, in part: “To Pimp A Butterfly, it’s the American dream….” How is it the American dream?
It’s the American dream because everybody wanna feel like they’re in control of their success. We’re puppets in so many different places [in our lives]. To pimp out something from a negative place and take it to a positive place, that’s what everybody wanna do. Everybody have their own story. I have mine with good kid, m.A.A.d city. You have yours. And to come out of these harsh realities and do something positive, you’re pimping the butterfly. You’re coming out this cocoon of this caterpillar and you’re making the best out of it. Everybody wanna do that.
Full Interview: Mass Appeal
Kendrick Lamar breaks down the meaning of “How To Pimp A Butterfly” and speaks on his thoughts on the new generation with Mass Appeal. Check below for Kendrick Lamar explaining his “How To Pimp a Butterfly” album cover.