Metamorphosis and Many Metaphors

Exclusively available on PapersOwl
Updated: Jun 20, 2022
Cite this
Category: Literature
Date added
Pages:  2
Words:  572
Order Original Essay

How it works

The meaning of the title To Pimp a Butterfly is explained in the penultimate track, ‘Mortal Man’. Lamar tells the listener about a caterpillar, “Prisoner to the streets,” it was born in. “Consuming everything around it,” it will do anything to survive. Over time, it learns to “pimp” the butterfly, the vibrant and colourful creature everyone loves. The butterfly represents the caterpillar’s own hidden “thoughtfulness” and “beauty” but the caterpillar is too hardened and trapped in a “cocoon” of its thoughts to see that. Soon, it wants to go “home” and when it does so, it breaks the cocoon. Slowly its wings emerge and it “sheds light on (cultural) situations” that it never considered, “ending the internal struggle.” It is free. “Although the butterfly and the caterpillar are completely different, they are one and the same.” (Lamar, 2015).

The caterpillar may refer to the music industry that pimps African American artists for their benefit or people from Compton who hustle daily to survive. The butterfly stands for the influencers, the artists who try to ease the pain of the community through their ideas and art. But the butterfly was a caterpillar once. While Lamar talks about how the industry has exploited African American artists throughout history, he also sees the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly, as his own. As the album concludes with this analogy, it is also clear that the album’s runtime has been Lamar’s journey too. In the beginning, he was the caterpillar, blind and “pimping” his talent for material things (the first few tracks). He was the caterpillar, consumed by grief and self-loathing(‘u,’ ‘the walls’). He then went “home,” to Africa (‘Momma’) where he felt free for the first time. He finally becomes the butterfly on ‘i’. This extended metaphor connects many cultural dots throughout the album together as it parallelly represents Lamar’s growth as an individual.

Need a custom essay on the same topic?
Give us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll deliver the highest-quality essay!
Order now

Tracking back, we see that in ‘For Free? (Interlude) when he raps, “This dick ain’t free,” not only is he admonishing a woman who is sleeping with him only for the money but he is also telling the music industry that he’s not going to let it exploit him. As it turns out, he’s also talking about slavery, made evident only at the end, when he concludes, “Oh America, you bad bitch, I picked cotton and made you rich, now this dick ain’t free.” (Lamar, 2015). ‘King Kunta,’ again, is about “black man (Lamar) taking no losses,” from the music industry, yet, also about slavery and standing up against injustice (Lamar, 2015).

In ‘The walls,’ he raps about how he uses his fame to sleep with a woman as an act of revenge against her husband. “Kendrick’s complex wordplay introduces layered metaphorical and literal walls—the “walls” of a woman’s vagina, the walls of a prison cell, and ultimately the “walls” of his mind and conscience. (Genius with 11 contributors, 2015). Through this personal tale, he uses the metaphor of walls to talk about lust, revenge, murder, incarceration and the human psyche.

It has been said that his lyrics are sometimes too dense due to the excessive use of metaphors (Roberts, 2015), making it difficult for listeners to understand what he wishes to say and this could prove counterintuitive. However, the same appears to be what presses his audience to listen to the lyrics more carefully, (Roberts calls it “ripe for exploration”) to draw meaning.

The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay

Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper

Cite this page

Metamorphosis And Many Metaphors. (2022, Jun 20). Retrieved from