28 Days of Album Cover Blackness With VSB, Day 21: Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)

Illustration for article titled 28 Days of Album Cover Blackness With VSB, Day 21: Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
Image: Kendrick Lamar ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope))

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly (all parts of it) has been think-pieced to death, so that’s not what’s going to happen here. Plus, I probably already did that and am too lazy to look it up. And this series is about Black ass album covers anyway. To Pimp a Butterfly is one Black ass album cover.


And it’s not just that this is how white America views Black America. It’s the attitude with which this cover shits on America. I love it. All the homies from, presumably, westside Compton with bottles and stacks (and a baby because despite what white America will have you believe, Black men do love our babies) showing up on the White House lawn. Hell, this is what white America thinks the Black Lives Matters protests of 2020 looked like. The white judge keeled over is icing on the cake. As cover art, it’s as political as the album itself; a bunch of Black men posing in front of the White House like it’s a house in the hood speaks volumes about our own views about America’s original public housing project. It’s just another house we don’t own so fuck it.

I love how intentional Kendrick is with his art and this album cover is just another example of how thoughtful he is about his messaging. Art is supposed to convey an idea and Kendrick does so with his album covers and the music therein.

And most importantly, the very first time I saw the album cover for To Pimp a Butterfly, the only thought I had was, “wow, that’s a Black ass album cover.”

Message conveyed.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.