Back in Dec. 2014, Kendrick Lamar was the last musical guest on the Colbert Report. He performed an untitled song that saw Kendrick take on different racial characters that advised him on how to best fulfill his life. However, months later that specific song was no where to be found on The Northern Light’s 2015 album of the year, “To Pimp a Butterfly.”
Kendrick continued the trend of appearing on national TV and performing unreleased music. The “untitled series” as it became know spawned several tracks including one at this year’s Grammys.
About two weeks ago, of all the people in the world NBA superstar LeBron James pressured Kendrick’s label to release the “untitled series.” Well last Friday, LeBron and everyone else got their wish as Kendrick debuted his fourth album “Untitled Unmastered.”
The eight tracks are a collection of demos that did not make last year’s album, but are just as progressive. Similar to “Pimp a Butterfly,” the record features a lot of jazz, funk and spoken word. Themes of violence, self-love and self-hatred are all prevalent.
Each track is a perspective of Kendrick’s disdain for the world. “Untitled 1” uses biblical metaphors to critique culture while ‘Untitled 7” is a three part track about the stages of an emotional rush.
“Untitled 8” which was originally performed on the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” balances the hypocrisy of his continued to success with the economic hardship of African Americans. While most of the songs share a critical view of the world, the album itself is intended to give a sense of hope rather than despair. Where there is darkness, there will always be light.
In the same vein as Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo,” Kendrick isn’t making music for the masses, but rather for himself. This genre of conscious progressive hip-hop isn’t anything new but it is also not commonplace with mainstream radio audiences.
Sure, Kendrick had a guest verse on a Taylor Swift song last year, but his creativity shines on music like this. While most rappers are playing checkers by starting controversy and accumulating followers on Twitter, Kendrick is playing chess and making music that resonates with him.
Album: “Untitled Unmastered”
Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment
Release date: March 4, 2016