Kendrick Lamar is one of the greatest artists of our generation, bar none. Ever since the release of “Section.80” back in 2011, Lamar was poised to be one of the hottest rappers out, and with this new project, “untitled. unmastered.,” he not only proves this, but signifies himself as the best rapper alive.
After releasing “good kid m.A.A.d city” (GKMC) in 2012, many people had doubts about Kendrick. While mostly everyone agreed it was a great album (me included), how could he follow it up? He already set the standards so high, they were nearly impossible to reach.
Yet, he somehow did it with “To Pimp A Butterfly,” which was released back in March last year, by doing something simple: changing his style. While GKMC was more of a contained story in Kendrick’s past, “To Pimp A Butterfly” was a culmination of his black experience in America. It had more Jazz and Funk inspired production with live instrumentation, and the subject matter involved his battles with depression and police brutality.
“untitled. unmastered.” is essentially a combination of both of these albums, as these tracks are demos and leftovers from the recording sessions of “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Here we see Kendrick make the transition from GKMC to that album.
For a set of demos, this album comes together incredibly well as its own project. In fact, there are some songs here like “untitled 01 | 08.19.2014.” or “untitled 05 | 09.21.2014.” that are absolutely breathtaking and would fit just right on “To Pimp a Butterfly.”
However, with this album being a set of leftovers, there are some shortcomings. Songs like “untitled 04 | 08.14.2014” don’t really go anywhere meaningful, as it seems more like a half-formed idea than an actual song (though, it serves as a great intro to “untitled 5”).
Also, songs like “untitled 7 | 2014-2016” go on for too long, with half of that song being a recording for some parts of “untitled 4,” which is completely unnecessary as the first half is so good.
With those criticisms out of the way, though, I really don’t have that many bad things to say about this album. For what it is, it’s fantastic, as it blows my mind that one artist’s leftovers are better than 95% of rap songs released in the last year.
Kendrick Lamar is one of my favorite artists ever, and with this project being of top quality, I’m inclined to give this album an A-.