Friday, March 4, 2016

Kendrick Lamar Drops Surprise 'untitled unmastered.' Album

In the spirit of all great 2016 hip-hop and R&B albums so far, Kendrick Lamar just surprise dropped a collection of unreleased tracks, which he's called untitled unmastered.

The surprise project follows news from Top Dawg Entertainment's CEO (or, top dawg) promising that he'd drop a juicy TDE project this week, as well as whispers of album art and collaborations popping up all over social media this week. Although not an official follow-up to To Pimp A Butterfly, in its 8-song untitled glory, this thing is one hell of a Friday treat.

A collection (presumably, a fraction) of K-Dot's 'untitled' cuts which were kept off TPAB due to clearance issues or other hold-ups, untitled unmastered. is where they'll live in their (more so) mastered, immortal glory. Subtly similar to TPAB (I do appreciate his final choices on that record), the soulful instrumentals, visceral samples and repeated proclamations ("pimp, pimp, hooray!") are still what punctuate the quick-spitting narrative here. But, song to song, you'll find stark contrasts in both the sonic flow and Kendrick's sensibility. 

On "untitled 02," which was first partially debuted on Fallon last year, the dark, slinky jazz illuminates Cornrow Kenny's ever-present questions of faith, God and temptation. "untitled 06" is a bright, 70s groove about a woman. The endurant three-part "untitled 07" features production credits from SwiZz BeatZ and Alicia Keys' five year-old son, a jab at Drizzy ("I just wanna Drake you down") and tongue-in-cheek responses to the sad current state of affairs ("Head is the answer/ Head is the future"). "untitled 08" is some jaunty "King Kunta"-style funk. Maybe it's only eight songs, but it's a fucking marathon; it's exquisitely spastic, exhausting and reassuring. The best, and maybe now only, kind of Kendrick.

Although he's calling this just a "project," uu. allows more of a comprehensive glimpse into Lamar's genius, complicated brain than you'll get with most other contemporary leaders. Even if it's just an interlude before the next official chapter, any art like this is what the world needs.

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