Saxophonist Kamasi Washington gets much-deserved props for his instrumental wizardry, but he recently heaped praise on another album that may have laid the groundwork for him. In a recent conversation with Pitchfork, Washington credited Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly with raising the bar for hip-hop sonics on a mainstream level.
Washington says Kendrick’s 2015 masterpiece, which he contributed to, “went beyond jazz; it meant that intellectually stimulating music doesn’t have to be underground.” Indeed, the album’s funk and jazz soundscape was a welcome flourish to modern mainstream rap, garnering Lamar praise and, as Washington asserts, evolving music in a way “we’re still seeing the effects of.”
Washington also told Pitchfork that, “from day one, I knew this was a classic, world-changing record.” He credits Kendrick for not only bringing in talented instrumentalists on the project but allowing them to feel freedom in their craft, a vibe which radiates throughout the artistically ambitious project, which Washington says proved “(Jazz) can be mainstream,” and showed him Kendrick’s genius upfront:
“There are the people who it just comes easy to and there are people who work at it. Kendrick is both. He can instantly write a song that’s dope as hell, but then spend the time to meticulously work it out and make it perfect.”