Artist Kendrick Lamar released his latest album, “To Pimp A Butterfly”, on 3/15/15 and it is projected to be his biggest success to date. His previous three albums discuss adversity and life growing up in Compton, California but they were not as focused as this album is to discussing racial issues and the implications of these issues. In “To Pimp a Butterfly” Lamar expands his discussions on race and advances them calling for his listeners to expand their horizons and become more informed on topics ranging from gang related issues to race related issues around the globe. This latest albums has many powerful messages that relate to IMT but none as powerful as the poem below.
The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it
Its only job is to eat or consume everything around it, in order to protect itself from this mad city
While consuming its environment the caterpillar begins to notice ways to survive
One thing it noticed is how much the world shuns him, but praises the butterfly
The butterfly represents the talent, the thoughtfulness, and the beauty within the caterpillar
But having a harsh outlook on life the caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak and figures out a way to pimp it to his own benefits
Already surrounded by this mad city the caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon which institutionalizes him
He can no longer see past his own thoughts
When trapped inside these walls certain ideas take roots, such as going home, and bringing back new concepts to this mad city
Wings begin to emerge, breaking the cycle of feeling stagnant
Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations that the caterpillar never considered, ending the internal struggle
Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different, they are one and the same.
This poem was written by a good friend of Lamar’s and is supposed to represent his life. However, the caterpillar is also a metaphor for people born into ghetto neighborhoods and is easily applicable to all listeners. In lines 1-3 of the poem Lamar discusses how the caterpillar, born into a less than adequate environment, begins to behave selfishly and dangerously in order to survive. In lines 4-6 Lamar discusses how the world hates the caterpillar for how he behaves in order to survive but also praises the butterfly which represents the positive aspects of all caterpillars. Because the caterpillar behaves selfishly it resents the butterfly and uses aspects of the butterfly for its own advantages. In lines 7-9 Lamar then states that the caterpillar undergoes the cocoon process which perpetuates any issue the caterpillar had and makes the caterpillar blind to everything except his own thoughts and circumstance. In lines 10-13 of the poem Lamar depicts the butterfly becoming exposed to new ideas and how he changes and is able to teach himself and others these ideas that will ultimately help end the internal struggle of all caterpillars. In the last line of the poem Lamar explains that the caterpillar and butterfly are the same person but the difference between them is the new information and desire to find peace.
IMT is prevalent throughout the entirety of the poem. For starters, Lamar states that when people behave selfishly, they become blind to the rest of the world and stop perceiving relevant information. In addition to this, he also states that people exhibiting these characteristics don’t engage anything else for the sake of betterment and change but for their own selfish means that will only benefit them. Lamar then goes on to discuss how some people are blind and can only see things through their own perspective.
Next, Lamar talks about how people are able to become happier and end internal daily struggles by expanding their horizons and believing in and understanding foreign ideas. This idea is shown in IMT through the cycle of learning and rate of change models. These models show how when information is perceived and applied change is the outcome and that the more this happens the quicker it will happen also. Furthermore, when LS and RS characteristics are transposed on the rate of change model, it can be seen that the more information someone perceives the quicker they will move from the right side-blindness to the left side- visionary.
The biggest IMT concept of this poem, however, is that the butterfly and caterpillar are different in habit but they are the same person. By incorporating this Lamar shows that you will have been and always will be the same person and that is out of your control. What is in your control, however, is how you think and behave which ultimately defines you as a caterpillar or butterfly (Natural Law). Change is the underlying theme in this poem.
Lamar empowers his listeners to believe that they are in control of their lives and can choose if they want to become a butterfly or stay a caterpillar.