This morning saw the release of Kendrick Lamar’s new album untitled unmastered., an 8-track play that literally doesn’t possess any titles — just dates that reveal when the bulk of this project was recorded. At first glance (and upon initial listen), it’s clear that we’re listening to the creation of what became To Pimp A Butterfly, as the Jazzy/Blues-y presence and live instrumentation sound of those collaborators — namely Thundercat, Bilal and Terrace Martin — are very much existent. It’s also clear that many of these songs contain good kid, m.A.A.d city DNA, thanks to the work of Hit-Boy, Swizz Beatz (and his son), Cardo, Da Internz and others to contributed to these tracks.
In addition, it’s the surprise of certain TDE collaborators that add to the beauty of this listen — hearing SZA, Jay Rock and (TDE President) Punch on the fourth and fifth tracks are absolute genius (shout out to frequent collaborator Anna Wise as well). It’s also eye-opening to finally hear two live performances — ‘Untitled 1’ and ‘Untitled 2’, which Lamar performed on Colbert Report and Fallon’s Tonight Show, respectively — in song form, giving off completely different vibes than their stage renditions (for better or worse…’Untitled 2′ live was much more striking and hair-raising to us). The second half of the sole ‘2016’ track (the seventh on the project) does stand out to some degree: not because it doesn’t fit with the other leftovers (the first half seems to come from the 2014 bunch, anyway), but because it seems to have been placed there to send a very right-now message to his peers, namely the ones who have had something negative to say about his music and success (we hope you’re listening, Jay Electronica). Hell, that one track (along with Lebron James, interestingly enough) may have been the deciding factor to release untitled unmastered. in the first place.
We’re not really standing untitled unmastered. against Kendrick’s other for-sale catalog — that wold be pretty unfair, given that it’s nothing more than songs (still unmixed and oft-ear-jarring, mind you) that didn’t make the cut. But the songs are still powerful, hard-hitting and extremely funky nonetheless, and a stamp of Kendrick Lamar’s (and Top Dawg Entertainment’s) 2016 takeover. What a profound statement from such a profound artist.
KENDRICK LAMAR – UNTITLED UNMASTERED. (TRACKLISTING)
1. untitled 01 | 08.19.2014.
2. untitled 02 | 06.23.2014.
3. untitled 03 | 05.28.2013. ft. Terrace Martin, Bilal, Thundercat & Anna Wise
4. untitled 04 | 08.14.2014. ft. SZA & Jay Rock
5. untitled 05 | 09.21.2014. ft. Anna Wise, Jay Rock & Punch
6. untitled 06 | 06.30.2014. ft. Cee-Lo Green
7. untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016
8. untitled 08 | 09.06.2014.