Malaika Rapsody featured on Kendrick Lamars TPAB
In the aftermath of the huge outpouring of critical respect for Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly, Getintothis’ Jimmy Coultas looks at the importance another crucial contribution.
Kendrick Lamar’s third album To Pimp a Butterfly has been released now for little over a month, the world collectively losing its shit ever since. It’s hard to think of another 21st century hip-hop album which has resonated with the masses allayed with such considerable political gravitas, with Lamar exploring the reality of being an Afro American at a point in time where racial tensions in the country are at a thirty year high.
While the contributors towards the opus have been the source of discussion for many since it was unleashed, much made of the musicality of the release and the disparate sounds on the production, five other rappers rock up. Three of those – Pete Rock, Pharrell Williams and a vaguely out of breath Dr Dre – are really producers with a brief cameo, whilst Snoop Dogg brings his vocal melody to a hook. Only one other emcee actually delivers a verse.
That starlet is Rapsody, who contributes to the same track (Complexion, below) that Rock delivers the bridge for. Whilst undoubtedly a talented emcee she’s a low profile selection for Lamar to enlist, especially as on his previous LP good kid m.A.A.d City he utilised a variety of cameos, including Drake with the all-star co-sign, MC Eiht the veteran’s viewpoint and Jay Rock holding down Kendrick’s crew, TDE. Nevertheless it’s one that embodies a lot of what is great about To Pimp… and adds to the legacy of the value of other people spitting on your records in hip hop.
The guest verse has a cultural resonance that’s hard to compare with other forms of musical collaboration, largely down to the competitive spirit that underpins the genre. This isn’t the same as Lennon and McCartney egging each other on; inviting someone to rap alongside you is an artistic decision that can deliver a number of consequences, and not always positive outcomes.