Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly beats OK Computer to become highest-rated album of all time

(Image credit: Getty)

Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly has been named as the highest-rated album of all time by Rate Your Music. The ratings platform announced that Kendrick's Grammy-winning hip-hop epic had surpassed Radiohead's OK Computer to snag the top spot on Thursday Jan 31. 

Rate Your Music is a website that allows listeners to rate, review and discover music. Users catalogue items from their personal music collection, add reviews and assign ratings in a five-star rating system. The site also features charts that list the highest-rated releases.

The platform's statistics display an average score of 4.34/5 for To Pimp a Butterfly that's distilled from 59,586 ratings and 491 reviews. OK Computer has fallen behind to take the number two spot with a rating of 4.26.

Released in 2015, To Pimp a Butterfly earned Lamar seven Grammy nominations in 2016, and a win for Best Rap Album. The record topped the charts in the UK and US and was one of the year's most critically acclaimed releases. It has since become one of the 21st century's most influential hip-hop albums. 

A featured review on Rate Your Music from user redoulicious describes the album as "a call to action so meticulously crafted it deserves all your attention and then some more." "The music is at the heart of the message," the reviewer continues, "blending rap, jazz, funk, soul and spoken word, gathering Black heritage in handfuls to cement some of the most significant voices of recent history and make great strides for the culture."

To Pimp a Butterfly's production was handled by a number of contributors, including Sounwave, Terrace Martin, Taz "Tisa" Arnold, Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Pharrell Williams, Boi-1da, and Knxwledge, with Dr. Dre and Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith acting as executive producers. Guest appearances on the record include George Clinton, Bilal, Snoop Dogg, Ronald Isley, Rapsody, SZA, Kamasi Washington, Anna Wise and Robert Glasper.

While the album was recorded in several studios across New York, Washington and St Louis, and a mobile set-up in Lamar’s tour bus, the main hub was the No Excuses studio, based in Los Angeles. Dr. Dre mixed his 1992 album The Chronic and Eminem's The Slim Shady LP at the studio, among others, and it houses Dre's former SSL 4000 G+, which is said to be the last G-series desk ever built by Solid State Logic.

Speaking with Sound on Sound in 2015, To Pimp a Butterfly's chief engineer Derek Ali detailed Lamar's working methods. "It’s almost crazy watching him, because he knows exactly what he wants. Big names mean nothing to him. He may listen to the way someone sings or plays, and if he likes it, he’ll incorporate that into his project, but in a way that fits his vision. 

"He looks at people’s vocals as instruments," Ali continues. "Kendrick knew what he wanted to talk about with regards to the lyrics, and from there it was a matter of piecing the music together, and making that fit with the vocals. He writes in his head, and he’ll hear a beat, or a bass line, or an instrumental or vocal melody, and he’ll build a track from there. 

"Like Thundercat may be playing an amazing bass line in the studio lounge, and Kendrick might be having a conversation with someone else, but a moment later he’ll write something to fit that bass line, and five minutes later he’ll say, ‘Let’s record that.’ He writes all the words, of course, but is also 100 percent involved in the writing of the music."

Elsewhere in Rate Your Music's top ten, Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here comes in at number three, and King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King lands the number four spot, while Radiohead score two more top ten positions with Kid A at number five and In Rainbows at number eight. The only other hip-hop album to feature in the top ten is Madvillainy, the 2004 avant-rap classic from Madlib and the late MF Doom's collaborative project Madvillain. 

Check out Rate Your Music's top albums of all time.

Matt Mullen
Tech Features Editor

I'm the Tech Features Editor for MusicRadar, working on everything from artist interviews to tech tutorials. I've been writing about (and making) electronic music for over a decade, and when I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard or a piano, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my over-stuffed hard drive.