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Kendrick Lamar – untitled, unmastered | Review

If you’ve ever wanted to see a genius at work, look no further than Kendrick Lamar’s latest offering untitled, unmastered.

Source: Album Artwork

Source: Album Artwork

If you’ve ever wanted to see a genius at work, look no further than Kendrick Lamar’s latest offering untitled, unmastered.

Spanning 34 minutes, the project – a surprise release of leftover demos from Lamar’s highly successful To Pimp A Butterfly­, still manages to encapsulate Lamar’s artistry and gift for detail.

The opener, ‘untitled 01’, is a stark reminder that the end of the world could happen tomorrow and a question of where we would be if that was indeed the case. “No more running from world wars/No more discriminating the poor/No more bad bitches and real n*****s” he unloads with a pace so rapid you can imagine Kendrick himself running amidst this landscape of crumbled buildings, fallen planes, and the ground swallowing people.

Despite dedicating himself to preaching the word of God through his music, Kendrick is left without an answer, having kneeled before God himself and pleaded his case for a place in heaven.

‘untitled 03’, in which Kendrick is advised from men from all different cultures (Asian, Indian, Black, and White) on how to live his life, picks up where ‘Wesley’s Theory’ left off; painting the white man (notably the image of a music industry executive), as the only one to take from and not give to Kendrick, despite trying to persuade him that signing a record label deal will only benefit him.

Seemingly piecing together three separate sessions, ‘untitled 07’, reportedly produced by five-year-old Egypt Daoud Dean, veers between a working part of the EP to an example of why these songs are demos but, remarkably, might be one of the most interesting songs on the album due to its open nature with Kendrick’s creative process.

Taking time to throw shots in the direction of both Drake and Jay Electronica on the way, the track reaches a point where Kendrick is just playing around with a few friends. “This is a fifteen-minute song, We’re just jammin’ out, we on stage,” he says before continuing his whiny interlude. It’s in stark contrast to ‘untitled 06’ and ‘untitled 08’ (otherwise known as Blue Faces), which are complete tracks with all the layers and backing vocals in place. Even the concept of the former is solid, with Kendrick meeting a girl and debating, through a conversation with her, how his weirder traits should be embraced because they are at the centre of who he is.

Regardless, as part of the surprise drop/digital rollout wave that has started to replace more traditional forms of album promotion, untitled, unmastered is a worthy victory lap after the year of pure success that Kendrick had in 2015; he has the most critically acclaimed rap album of all time, is widely considered the best current rapper only two albums into his career (three if you count Section .80), and, if the fact that he turned a bunch of scraps into a considerable project is anything to go by, we are looking at an artist on top form that has yet to peak.

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