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Album Reviews

Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered

Adam Sputh

  

  Kendrick Lamar took a very interesting approach in promoting his latest surprise release, by performing several “Untitled” songs at different late-night and award shows ultimately resulting in a request by Mr. Lebron James himself.  Lebron tweeted to Kendrick and Top Dawg Entertainment CEO Anthony Tiffith, “ Yo after that @kendricklamar Grammy performance , you have to release those untitled tracks asap!!! What’s up? Talk to me.”  King Kendrick responded very quickly to King James’ request and released Untitled Unmastered. 

  Several songs were left off To Pimp A Butterfly due to various logistical circumstances and now they have been given a proper outlet to continually be revisited, and gladly so.  Untitled Unmastered continues the post-jazz neo-soul vibe of Butterfly but keeps the subject matter less dense and more playful without compromising the artistic integrity or spit-fire lyricism that is expected of a Kendrick release.  There is a lot to take in when listening to this album; each song seems to continually evolve in rhythm, structure, and ferocity from start to finish.  Bass lines melt, piano arpeggios swell and decrescendo, and jazz horns glisten into the excellent, well-crafted production of this album that features appearances by Cee Lo Green, Thundercat, Sza, and Alicia Keyes five-year-old son, Egypt, with a production credit. No rapper puts more emotion into his voice than Kendrick.  His flows aggressively change sharply within each song as his internal monologue struggles with the conflict of fame and wealth, social injustice, or the desire to sleep with his girlfriend’s mother.  The fact that he chose to not provide song titles could also be interpreted as a sign of Kendrick’s refusal to create something that can be defined.  The album is a consistent enigma that not only manages to second guess each song that precedes the previous, but manages to create a cohesive final product that connects from start to finish.      

  Untitled acts as a victory lap to Butterfly’s success as it immediately revisits the next level G-Funk sound that California artists such as Kendrick, Flying Lotus, and Anderson .Paak, have been developing over the past couple years.  The album does not consist of any radio friendly singles, but will receive plenty of critical acclaim because of the atmosphere that is constructed throughout this album.  It is similar to Andre 3000’s The Love Below or Common’s Electric Circus or even Miles Davis Bitches Brew.  He has created a sound that is immensely artistic and creative, but manages to maintain a hip-hop level of braggadocio and confidence.

By Brian Kearney