Disclaimer: Explicit lyrics are included in this article, as the album is explicit as well.
After all of his recent Grammy wins, Kendrick Lamar is at the top of his game right now both critically and commercially.But lyrically, he is still crushing everyone in his way while staying awake to the social movements that he is passionate about, and bringing light to them for others’ benefit.
This new album he released only a few weeks ago is called,“untitled unmastered.,” and it is the modern 8 track we didn’t know we needed that takes us behind-the-scenes of his last album, “To Pimp a Butterfly.”
Each track is unique with its date of existence next to the number and filled with lyrics that could slam anyone against a wall from how many words are thrown out in Kendrick’s signature style of rapping. When you listen to the album in its entirety, it makes you think about how none of these tracks made it onto the final cut of the album, but also grateful that they didn’t, otherwise we wouldn’t have this album right now.
Even though this album hasn’t even been out for a whole month yet, there is already talk circulating on the Internet about Lamar working on his next album from videos posted on Snapchat by his label. But for now we’ll have to hold on to these eight tracks from the Compton rapper. Below is a track-by-track review of the Billboard 200 chart-topping album.
“untitled 01 | 08.19.2014” Rating: 4.5/5
Starting off the album is a deep, sensual voice chuckling in your ear, like the devil. It plays out well as a creepy, caution song to the people of the apocalypse from Christianity, saying, “dark skies, fire and brimstone, some of us sent home,” but also Lamar’s own sins, worries, and prophetic speech.
“untitled 02 | 06.23.2014” Rating: 3/5
“Pimp-pimp hooray!” is the intro, echoed four times in silence by Lamar with an ironic tone. The song then goes into a bass-filled four minutes with a great lyrical rhythm about Lamar’s rise to fame and his Compton upbringing splitting him into two. Even though he is a major star now, Lamar does not want to lose sight about what is happening in his city, staying true to who he is and not what he became from fame.
“untitled 03 | 05.28.2014” Rating: 3/5
What sounds like a continuation of “King Kunta” from TPAB with more electronic and jazz influences, Lamar talks about several minorities and the input they give to him about how to live. The last part of the song focuses on how the “white man”is portrayed just taking all he can for himself, and how Lamar has combatted that with his own authenticity in the music industry, which he feels is lacking now.
“untitled 04 | 08.14.2014” Rating: 2.5/5
In this short and slow song, Lamar emphasizes freethinking from religion and the government’s influences. He does a little whisper in the listener’s ear after a line is sung, and it catches you off guard, but really makes you want to listen to what he is saying. While there are sexual undertones with the line, “Head is the future, head is the answer,” Lamar is fighting with his demons from fame and the struggles he had before his popularity as a rapper.
“untitled 05 | 09.21.2014” Rating: 4/5
A drum-heavy and piano lead song with the sax thrown in and plenty of verses about Lamar’s journey through religion and injustice are at the center here. With quite a few guests along the way with Lamar, and the switch up from Anna Wise singing sensually about how, “that means the world to me,” to the frantic rapping makes for a repeat-worthy song.
“untitled 06 | 06.30.2014” Rating: 3.5/5
In the most pop-sounding song thanks to Cee Lo Green’s appearance, and the light, samba tempo playing throughout, it is ultimately a love song about Lamar’s infatuation for a woman who he finds very attractive with her abnormal personality, while the singers’ make their own cases for being just as out there too.
“untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016” Rating: 3/5
With the dates of this one song coming in at over two years, Lamar has it split up into three parts. Really, when you listen to it though, it sounds like a great montage of songs mixed in with a studio commentary at the end lending itself to the “unmastered” element of this album. This is the longest track on the album coming in at just a little over eight minutes, but it has so much to it that it’s definitely worth a listen more than once if you can spare that much time to one track.
“untitled 08 | 09.06.2014” Rating: 4/5
Closing off this album is this funk-inspired, throwback sounding song complete with Kendrick Lamar bouncing words along with the rhythm about his personal encounters with money and coming to terms with the new life he has thanks to fame. It’s a great song to end the album with, but by now, the themes of his songs become a little too repetitive.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
The hype around this was definitely elevated by Kendrick’s performance at the Grammy’s this year, and even though these tracks are all around 2 years old, they still feel as fresh as if it were an entirely new album. This album is like the deluxe version of “To Pimp A Butterfly” we never got. It is able to stand on its own, and all there is left to say is that this is Kendrick Lamar’s world, and we are merely living in it.
For more info on the rumors about Kendrick’s new album, click on this link: http://www.rap-up.com/2016/03/14/kendrick-lamar-working-on-new-music/
Photos taken by Aftermath Entertainment and NME.