Kendrick Lamar’s new album is ‘Untitled Unmastered.’ Released as a surprise, it contains tracks that did not make the cut for the Compton rapper’s multi-Grammy winning sophomore album ‘To Pimp a Butterfly.’ Music critics are weighing in and here’s a roundup of reviews.
In the era of the surprise album, music artists still astonish us. Such is the case with Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Untitled Unmastered’ which was released at midnight without advance notice, let alone fanfare, and made available for live streaming on Apple Music and for purchase at iTunes. In fact, it marks his second such surprise album, as ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ was a near surprise last March, when it was released a week ahead of schedule to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the release of the the late legendary Tupak Shakur’s classic album, ‘Me Against the World.’
Now it’s nearly a year later, and just days after that very same ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ received five Grammy awards, out of the 11 nominations, including Best Rap Album. Kendrick Lamar also graced the stage with a powerful, theatrical and politically charged performance of ‘The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright.’ To say it’s been a banner year for Kendrick Lamar is an understatement. He’s emerged as one of this generation’s most iconic and important rappers, yes, but music artists, period. In an era that’s seeing so many take to visual and aural vulgarity, Kendrick Lamar has been challenging us with significant, thought-provoking music that’s tapping in to the Zeitgeist.
Now we’ve got eight tracks to explore and all, like the album title itself are untitled, each is given a date — day, month, and year — much like a musical diary, indicating exactly when they were recorded. These tracks span the years 2013 to 2016.
The unreleased songs themselves are not a surprise, as Kendrick Lamar has performed two “untitled” songs in late-night TV appearances, both on ‘The Colbert Report’ as well as more recently’The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ (video below.). And he also acknowledged them in a recent interview, saying, in part, “I got a chamber of material from the album that I was in love where sample clearances or something as simple as a deadline kept it off the album.”
And now, this “chamber” has arrived. The music critics are weighing in and, finding much to praise in these untitled tracks that comprise this surprise album. Here’s a roundup.
“….untitled 02 06.23.2014″ — […]…This is an awe-inspiring showcase of his lyrical dexterity, as Kendrick name-checks Obama, unspools a story with details about the parallel-parking techniques of his characters, and asks the Big Questions that he’s always been unafraid to lob out….” — Fuse
“….When I heard some of these songs in performances on Fallon, Colbert and the GRAMMYs I said I wanted them in my iTunes, but now that I have them, I’m not so sure. Maybe they were more powerful existing as these single, live moments…..” — DJ Booth
“…..Kendrick reclaims jazz from its intellectualised pedestal and repurposes it with reference to its origins: an expression of black culture in a transformative period for black history. Kendrick Lamar is the most coherent voice representing the contemporary state of black America, and this is his loudest speech……” — GQ
“…..Besides their assumed titles, one thing all these verses have in common is that they are reelingly good: descriptive, passionate, political, poetic. So it’s not a stretch to figure that his new album, untitled unmastered, teased earlier today and prompted, apparently, by LeBron James’s request Kendrick release his Grammy verse, is full of equally strong material…..” — Noisey
Once again, Kendrick Lamar has delivered a significant and important album that’s sure to stand the proverbial test of time. You can see the album cover art and stream the music below.
Pictures: PR Photos