With Kendrick Lamar’s latest album, To Pimp A Butterfly, having been available to the public for a little over two weeks now, discussions on whether or not the Compton, California rapper’s album is a classic have begun to surface.

During a newly-released interview with XXLMag.com, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill offered his thoughts on whether or not To Pimp A Butterfly is a classic. The journalist, professor, and activist dubbed the album “a classic” and went on to explain what constitutes a classic work, in his opinion.

He also revealed that K-Dot’s latest work “shows the gap” between the TDE lyricist and fellow artist, Drake.

“Yes, I think this is a classic,” Dr. Hill said. “Yeah, I’m not confused about this one. And classic doesn’t mean that it’s not above critique. Albums can be classic and not perfect…So I’m not saying that this album is flawless; there’s a moment where I might be like, ‘Yeah, I don’t need to hear Willie Lynch,’ you know? But I think this is as good as hip-hop gets right now. I think it shows the gap between him and Drake as well. And I like Drake a lot. I didn’t used to, but I like Drake. I think Drake can rap his ass off. I think Drake makes amazing music and I think Drake has bars. But I’m talking the level of depth. You know what I mean? Like, [Kendrick is] almost a combination of the best of Drake and J. Cole in that sense. Kendrick, he has bars, he has depth, he has the musical sensibility to him but he just does something else with his music.”

Dr. Hill was also asked about his initial reaction to the album upon hearing it for the first time. He recalled being overwhelmed by the project and says he initially expected to be disappointed.

While concluding his statements on his initial reaction to To Pimp A Butterfly, the professor referred to the album as “the gold standard of rap.”

“I was overwhelmed by it,” he said. “I was overwhelmed. Because, you know, sophomore albums are tough. And even my favorite artists sometimes struggle with sophomore albums; the third one might be dope again but the sophomore album can be tough. And I thought good kid, m.A.A.d city was probably the best solo debut album I heard in over a decade. For me it was up there with Get Rich or Die Tryin’. It was first like that. So for me, I was like, ‘The second one can’t be better than this,’ and I was preparing myself to be disappointed. And then I listened to it. He just did something different. He did something I didn’t expect…I thought he expanded his sound, but in some ways he made an album for Black people, and I think there’s something beautiful in that…Kendrick, to me, positioned himself in this album as the Gold Standard of rap for his generation.”

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