With the Grammys just a few days away, The Academy has decided to release a series of Oral History pieces for each nominee for “Album of the Year.” For Kendrick Lamar’s highly touted To Pimp A Butterfly, The Grammys rounded up the likes of Rapsody, Sounwave, MixedByAli, Terrace Martin, Thundercat and, of course, Kendrick Lamar to explain what went into the creation of the album.
On “King Kunta”…
Sounwave: When we first did “King Kunta,” the beat was the jazziest thing ever with pretty flutes. Kendrick said he liked it but to “make it nasty.” He referenced a DJ Quik record with Mausberg [“Get Nekkid”] and he told me what to do with it. I added different drums to it, simplified it, got Thundercat on the bass, and it was a wrap.
Thundercat: That strong-a** rhythm with banging drums and bass was created by me and Sounwave watching “Fist Of The North Star” while eating Yoshinoya. It’s funny because a lot of this album was created eating Yoshinoya and watching cartoons. It was so funky and so black.
Terrace Martin (co-producer): If you dig deeper you hear the lineage of James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Mahalia Jackson, the sounds of Africa, and our people when they started over here. I hear something different every time. I heard Cuban elements in it the other day.
On “Wesley’s Theory”…
Lamar: I was on tour with Kanye [West] and I had Flying Lotus with me because I wanted to work on the bus studio. He would make beats and it was one particular beat that he forgot to play. He skipped it but I heard about three seconds of it and I asked him, “What is that?” He said, “You don’t know nothing about that. That’s real funk. … You’re not going to rap on that.” It was like a dare.
Thundercat (co-producer): [“Wesley’s Theory”] started with Flying Lotus and I sitting on the couch in front of the computer analyzing George Clinton. He became the fuel for creating. I was really blown away that Kendrick was so into that song.
Sounwave: That song is the album cover.
Lamar: I had to find George Clinton in the woods, man. He was somewhere in the South and I had to fly out to him. We got in the studio and just clicked. Rocking with him took my craft to another level and that pushed me to make more records like that for the album.
Read the rest here.