Toppa Top ’15: Fifteen Ways The Caribbean Impacted Pop Culture In 2015

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December 28, 2015

15. Jamaican Music Made A Cameo on The Year’s Biggest Rap Album

Kendrick Lamarโ€™s sophomore LP To Pimp A Butterfly was one of the year’s defining albums, inspiring endless amounts of praise, and debate throughout 2015. Ultimately, it earned the Los Angeles rapper 11 Grammy nominations, the most of any artist this year. To Pimp A Butterfly was notably influenced by jazz, funk and vintage L.A. gangster rap. But, not unlike Kanye West’s Yeezus two years back, an unexpected Caribbean thread ran through it as well. The very first sounds on the album are a sample from โ€œEvery Nigger Is a Star,โ€ a track from a little-known 1974 album by Jamaican bassist and singer Boris Gardiner. And, in a more widely noticed overture to Caribbean sounds, there was the appearance of Assassin (aka Agent Sasco), who brought an intense, dancehall perspective to TPAB‘s โ€œThe Blacker The Berry.โ€ The provocative single was one of the most memorable tracks on To Pimp A Butterfly, and in hip-hop in general this year, boosting the international profile of an artist we’ve long known to be one of Jamaican music’s best kept secrets.โ€”Jesse Serwer