The hip-hop world was abuzz yesterday (June 16) for what would have been 2Pac’s 44th birthday. The late rapper was killed in Las Vegas in September of 1996, his murder still unsolved, his legacy still one of the most readily apparent across the rap-listening universe. In an interview with Vevo, West coast torch bearer Kendrick Lamar pays tribute to the fallen legend, even picking out the 2Pac song he most wishes he could add a verse to: “Ambitionz Az a Ridah,” the opening song from the double LP All Eyez on Me, the first album Pac dropped in 1996 (the second would be The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, released posthumously that November). He also says his favorite thing about Taylor Swift is “her energy,” then admits that the song from To Pimp a Butterfly he’s most excited to debut on tour is “Wesley’s Theory.”
His sophomore effort on Aftermath and Interscope, To Pimp a Butterfly marks a sharp left turn in Kendrick’s development. Where his 2012 debut, good kid, m.A.A.d. city benefited from an adolescent tunnel vision, Butterfly aims to be a kind of diaspora, mirroring back a latticework of musical and political influences. The Taylor Swift question was no doubt precipitated by Kendrick’s work with her on the remix of “Bad Blood.” That song, the Swift-only version of which was included on her massively successful 1989, was presumed to be about Katy Perry; the star-studded video vaulted it to #1 in the country, thanks in no small part to the Compton rapper’s contribution.