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Baker's Dozen

Beloved Transmissions: Mary Anne Hobbs' Favourite Albums
Daniel Dylan Wray , May 22nd, 2017 08:14

Ahead of her curation at the Manchester International Festival, Mary Anne Hobbs guides Daniel Dylan Wray on an inspiring trip through 13 records that shaped her life


Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly
It's interesting that this was one of the albums that Bowie was listening to before he made Blackstar. Tony Visconti was saying just last week that the world needs really brave, pioneering artists and not artists who are just creating pastiches of what came before. He cited Kendrick as one of the few artists in the world who is truly progressive and forward thinking and doing what Bowie did in taking very radical ideas into the mainstream, which is such an important thing. There are huge divisions now between the mainstream and the underground. The underground is as vibrant, as beautiful and as challenging as it's ever been, the mainstream becomes more and more decrepit, more depressing and more culturally meaningless. Kendrick is one of those artists that has been able to make that transition with very radical and really important ideas, with profound political thinking but without absolving himself of personal responsibility. That for me is the most fascinating thing, you can't always point the finger at other people and say, 'here are the world's problems, they are somebody else's', you have to turn the finger back around and look at your own shortcomings, your own failures, your own lack of humanity. He expresses that in such an extraordinary way. We come back to jazz as well in that there's a semblance of that in there, in the way he structures music and makes it move. I think you can definitely feel a jazz aesthetic in there, it may not be a pure interpretation but I think it's a conceptual interpretation in that music should be free to move in entirely fluid directions but never directions that you would first anticipate. I interviewed him a couple of years ago and we spoke a lot about failure and how he'd never been afraid to fall and that he had fallen countless time publicly but the only way to ever allow any real progress is to allow yourself to fail. It gives you hope for humanity that someone like Kendrick can explode on the level he has.