The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it. It’s only job is to eat or consume everything around it in order to protect itself from this mad city. While consuming his environment, the caterpillar begins to notice ways to survive. One thing the caterpillar notices is how much the world shuns him but praises the butterfly.
The butterfly represents the talent, the thoughtfulness, and the beauty within the caterpillar. But havin’ a harsh outlook on life, the caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak and figures out a way to pimp it to its own benefits.
Already surrounded by this mad city, the caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon, which institutionalizes him. He can no longer see past his own thoughts, he’s trapped. While trapped inside these walls, certain ideas take root such as going home and bringing back new concepts to this mad city. The result, wigs begin to emerge, breaking the cycle of feeling stagnant.
Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations that the caterpillar never considered, ending the eternal struggle. Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different, they are one and the same.
Kendrick Lamar on “Mortal Man” explaining the meaning behind the name of his album, To Pimp A Butterfly.