How Flying Lotus influenced today’s hottest rap album
Hardly four tracks into my first listen of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, a realization dawned on me. It was something like — for lack of more eloquent terminology — “damn, this has Flying Lotus written all over it.”
At this point, I was about 7 or 8 hours behind on my Twitter feed (it’s hard to keep tabs on social media while you’re sleeping) and would later find out that Flying Lotus is, in fact, written all over it.
Ironically enough, Steven Ellison — the man known to the world as Flying Lotus — took to the web in the late night/early morning to reveal his influence on the newly released album.
Concerning genres, To Pimp A Butterfly is on the fence — and that’s just an understatement. Without Kendrick’s masterfully crafted verses and lyrical content, the album would play out as a cohesive body of work that could be passed off as a live recording from an ensemble.
Few singles aside, it’s rap meets jazz fusion meets untamed instrumental elements. It’s exactly the sort of journey that Flying Lotus delivered on his most recent studio album You’re Dead, on which Lamar graced “Never Catch Me” with an extended verse and farewell hook.
As Ellison revealed on Twitter, it was this sort of project and a folder worth of similar beats that inspired Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Unexpected or just kept well under wraps, the result leaves us with the hottest rap album of 2015 (so far) inspired by the multi-talented Flying Lotus.
The album’s production credits have Dr. Dre serving as the executive, with lesser-known names such Sounwave, Terrace Martin, and Thundercat contributing heavily, as well as a blessing from Pharrell Williams, and an appropriate nod from Steven Ellison on the opening track.
We might not have gotten that version of “For Sale,” but there is a shimmering ray of hope in all these revelations: there’s still that folder full of Flying Lotus beats that went unused and could be back on the table. Ellison noted on Twitter that the story won’t end here, and hints something will eventually manifest from the sonics that influenced Lamar to produce Butterfly.
Purchase To Pimp A Butterfly on iTunes