The 27-year-old has revealed that he wanted to call the record Tu Pimp A Caterpillar in tribute to fellow rapper Tupac Shakur, who died after a Las Vegas drive-by shooting in 1996.
Lamar cites Tupac as a major musical influence and said the initial title would have been shortened to reflect his name, an intention picked up by blog Dead End Hip Hop.
“That was the original name and they caught it because the abbreviation was Tupac, Tu-P-A-C,” Lamar told MTV.
“Me changing it to ‘Butterfly’, I just really wanted to show the brightness of life and the word ‘pimp’ has so much aggression, and that represents several things.
“For me, it represents using my celebrity for good. Another reason is not being pimped by the industry through my celebrity.”
Lamar’s closing track “Mortal Man” features the recording of a 1994 interview with Tupac, while his new songs range from “intensely personal to swaggeringly aggressive”.
Lamar, whose last album was Good Kid, MAAD City in 2012, is booked to perform at London’s Wireless Festival in July alongside Drake, Nicki Minaj and Avicii.