Hip-hop fans were treated on Monday with the surprise release of To Pimp A Butterfly, the latest album from Kendrick Lamar. And if you're not a hip-hop fan, you're probably sick of seeing his name plastered across your social sphere by now. But I'll challenge you: If even an ounce of you acknowledges hip-hop as an art form, I think you'll find yourself in Kendrick's corner awfully quick.
And if you're still skeptical, consider this excerpt from Patterson Hood's (Drive-By Truckers) review of the album:
"To dismiss rap as a lesser form of writing, which Lamar’s boast implies, is to deny the literary credentials of some of hip-hop’s better writers. Chuck D, the gentlemen of Outkast, Too Short and, of course, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (among many others) have been the voices of the past several generations, just as important to the youth of their respective eras as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Westerberg were to theirs (ours). The predominantly white writers of the classic-era rock press always understated the literary importance of black music and I’m still amazed at lifelong music lovers who still don’t get the writerly importance of rap."
Mikal Cronin is back with a new song to coincide with the announcement of MCIII. According to a recent interview, Cronin said he played everything on the album including tzouras, French horn, saxophone, and trumpet, and he arranged the strings. What a show-off. MCIII is out on May 5 via Merge.
Matthew E. White
Matthew E. White is one of the music world's best arrangers and producers, which should come as no surprise if you've heard his work with Fight The Big Bull, the new Natalie Prass album, or his first record, Big Inner. White's not a particularly strong singer, but as he continues to refine his solo sound, he artfully writes around what is probably his only musical weakness. His latest album, Fresh Blood, is out now.