Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly dropped a week before its scheduled Mar. 23rd release and it’s dominating hip-hop conversations across the coasts. But the Compton emcee was not the only mastermind involved in the creative process. Singer Bilal made two guest appearances ( “Institutionalzed” and “These Walls”) on the 16-track effort and was also credited on being behind the scenes for four other tracks.
XXL caught up with the Philly native to explore his involvement in K. Dot’s sophomore effort.
Bilal says Kendrick along with Thundercat, Terrace Martin and Anna Wise created “a real creative environment” and that the Black Hippy rep “works crazy hours.” As far as his work on the album, he says he did “a ton of stuff.”
“I didn’t really know where it was gonna go,” said the 35-year-old. “I was just doing stuff in the lab, you know. [Laughs] I like to work and go for it. So when I spoke to him he was like, “Man, I want y’all to be on the whole album.” I thought he was just… I didn’t know if that actually wanna gonna happen because a lot of people say stuff like that. You know, usually when you do a song you fall in love with every song you do after you finish it. [Laughs]”
He also compared Kendrick’s studio ethic with that of collaborators The Roots and Common.
“What’s similar about all of them is that there’s always an organic connection; they’re truly involved in every aspect of their music and it’s the same way when I was working with all of those people that you mentioned.” He continued, “Now, the thing that makes Kendrick different is his style and his approach. His approach is different… I think all good stuff comes from the same source and we’re all kinda trying to draw from that same source in the universe so he’s a good antenna right now. He’s got his antennas up and you can feel that when you’re in the studio with him.”
Read the full interview here.