WHERE: Top Dawg Entertainment
Surprises are a wonderful thing. Nothing beats finding tenners in the pockets of rarely worn jeans, finding out that the baby isn’t yours and discovering that Marvel Studios did Deadpool correct are some examples of what makes life truly interesting. Kendrick Lamar has become a surprising source of new material this past week by dropping a new album titled Untitled Unmastered, which he took to Twitter to mention is comprised of demos recorded during the sessions which would ultimately birth the seminal album known today as To Pimp A Butterfly. It’s raw, unmastered and it still sounds good.
As to be expected, Untitled Unmastered features material that follows the same ideas and formulas that enveloped the sound of To Pimp A Butterfly. Old school jazz and hip hop elements complete a nostalgic sound which lays down a foundation that’s malleable enough for Kendrick to spit some bars that often range from self-referential words to discussing the topics heard so predominantly on TPAB. Untitled 01 kicks off the record with a hard hitting performance from Kendrick which eventually cools off into an RnB section that makes way for the PIMP PIMP….Hooray! sample we hear throughout the album. Untitled 02 definitely follows down the same route as TPAB’s U took as it shares the broken vocal delivery and the eerie jazz sections but adds a much more modern day bass drop into the mix – converting it into a pretty bold banger that could appeal to the casual music fan.
Untitled 03 is the unwanted brother of King Kunta with Kendrick sparking conversation with background singers against an instrumental that whips past the airwaves with some deep synths and a drum beat that’s quick to the mark. It contains a whole lot of harmonies layered upon one another which help shakes things up alongside the consistent instrumental, which plays as a steady prelude to the wonderful “head is the future” hook which makes up Untitled 04.
Untitled 05 and Untitled 06 are a duo of seriously well fleshed out tunes as Kendrick offers up instrumentation that utilises the wide spectrum of jazz to create some sounds that are full of percussion, bass, horns and it sounds excellent. Untitled 06 in particular is a highlight as it is rife with harmonies, melodies and hooks that really help modernise Kendrick’s sound which has often brought forth a bit of hatred from listeners.
The record comes to a close with the eight minute Untitled 07 and Untitled 08. The former is a huge canvas of various ideas which have been pieced together to form a Kendrick Lamar song that showcases his complexity but in a relaxed environment. The first half offers up a sweet levitate levitate levitate levitate hook and a deep bass line, whereas the second half is an interesting insight into the jam session with Kendrick trying to bring everybody into contributing to the song. It’s a funny little section that humanises Kendrick a little bit.
Untitled 08 kicks in with a funky intro and old school synthesisers which immediately gets me dancing. This track takes a serious dive into pop music territory as it lays down its main hook Blue Faces alongside the simple harmony which contributes to the already accessible sound greatly. This is a great track, and I really hope to see it released as a fully-fledged single from Kendrick.
Untitled Unmastered is once again another release that confirms the idea that Kendrick Lamar is pretty freakin’ good. This is a collection of unmastered demos and outtakes that were discarded from To Pimp A Butterfly’s track listing and they sound excellent. There are some hits that should be singles and right now they’re simply untitled – unreal. A great record, all hail the king.
What did you think of this EP? Do you agree with the EP? Disagree? Let me know by leaving a comment below!