You’re all prepared to recommend Lapsley’s new release for your blog then the night before release day one of, if not the, most important artist in the world at the moment drops a surprise release and your recommendation changes overnight. This highlights the importance of Kendrick Lamar in the current cultural and political climate. Last year’s album To Pimp A Butterfly is likely to be regarded by future generations and critics as highly as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On and based on the quality on this follow up such praise is fully deserved.
The title of Kendrick’s new release implies offcuts from last year’s album and that is what we get. However, offcuts from Kendrick Lamar are about 100 times better than most artists’ albums proper. The quality on show here is stunning.
Beats wise the vibe remains very similar to last year’s album with the off-kilter jazz beats inspired by the Brainfeeder crew littering the album. They are stunning and refreshing in the face of the often mundane trap heavy current US Hip Hop scene. And it is encouraging to see Kendrick sticking to a vibe which made To Pimp A Butterfly stand out from releases by his peers.
As a lyricist Untitled Unmastered serves to further highlight just how far Kendrick Lamar has grown and continues to develop there are focuses on Eastern Philosophy, meditations on hopelessness and political insight, it’s a long way from the subject matter of Instagram, dick pics and bling that many lesser rappers focus on at the moment.
Unititled Unmastered also sees Kendrick working with a strong ensemble cast of musicians including Thundercat, from the previously mentioned Brainfeeder crew, who features on almost every track, Adrain Younge who continues to go from strength to strength and DJ Khalil, all three make vital and exciting contributions to the album. However, there is one downside in that Kendrick choose to work with unrepentant pervert and offender Cee-Lo Green, however, such is the strength of the body of work this can be overlooked.
The two strongest tracks on show here untitled 05 and untitled 08 they are both staggering and worthy of Kendrick Lamar picking up further Grammy awards next year. The later track carries with it a similar vibe to King Kunta which is certainly no bad thing. The fact the track is 8 minutes long only adds to the build-up, joy and excitement and even at that length it seems too short.
And here in is the only disappointment Untitled Unmastered is such a joy and such a great body of work that, it is a shame that it is only just over 30 minutes and 8 tracks long. That said if all Kendrick’s releases are this strong it is a disappointment we can all cope with.