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The Year in Music 2015 — Kendrick Lamar Shines with To Pimp a Butterfly


Scott Dudelson/Getty ImagesIt’s no surprise Kendrick Lamar had a stellar 2015. After shaking up hip-hop with his infamous and explosive verse on Big Sean‘s “Control” last year, the rapper kept the punches coming, leading up the release of his critically-acclaimed sophomore album, To Pimp a Butterfly.

The rapper, whose 2015 New Year’s resolution was “not being stagnant,” started the year by surprising fans with a new song, “The Blacker the Berry,” a track that seemingly set the tone for the Black Lives Matter movement. He kept the conversation going with “King Kunta,” and later released “These Walls,” which led to his first appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Kendrick’s material was so gripping that even President Barack Obama named Lamar’s “How Much a Dollar Cost” his favorite song of the year.

Kendrick officially released To Pimp a Butterfly March 23. Despite leaking online early, it become his first number-one album on the Billboard 200 chart. The follow-up to 2012’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City debuted with 363,000 units in its first week. The set broke the record for most-streamed album of all time in a single day after being played a whopping 9.6 million times worldwide within the first 24 hours of its release.

It seemed everyone was trying to dissect Lamar”s carefully constructed lyrics, including students at High Tech High School in North Bergen, New Jersey. The rapper told Rolling Stone he was shocked by the students’ ability to understand his profound messaging throughout the album. “I didn’t think I made [To Pimp a Butterfly] for 16-year-olds,” he said. “But to get a kid actually telling me this, it’s a different type of feeling, ’cause it lets me know that their thought process is just as advanced as mine, even if I’m 10, 15 years older.”

Kendrick won three awards at the 2015 BET Hip Hop Awards: Best Hip Hop Video, Lyricist of the Year, and Impact Track, all of them for his single, “Alright.” The album would later be named No. 1 on Rolling Stone‘s 50 Best Albums of 2015 list. But most impressive is the fact  Kendrick leads all nominees with 11 nods, including Album of the Year, for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.

Aside from his music, the rapper joined forces with retail chain Finish Line for the reintroduction of the Reebok Ventilator, a sneaker that was designed to stop gang violence. The Compton rapper was later honored for his efforts to give back to his hometown with the California State Senate’s “Generational Icon Award.” 

Next year will see Kendrick working on new music, which he’s already begun recording. He recently assured fans in an interview with the U.K.’s The Guardianthat “everything will make a little more sense,” referring to the fact some of his material on To Pimp a Butterfly was “probably a little bit too far out for people to understand it.”

In the latest news, after recently wrapping his Kunta’s Groove Sessions Tour, Kendrick will headline the inaugural Auckland City Limits Music Festival, taking place in New Zealand on March 19, 2016.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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