Lamar’s Latest Release Real, Raw

Compton-based rapper Kendrick Lamar is continuing his winning streak with the release of untitled unmastered.

Lamar received critical acclaim last year with his fourth studio album  To Pimp a Butterfly, but during its recording process, a great deal of material went unreleased, untitled, and unmastered — much to the disappointment of everyone, especially Lebron James, who apparently demanded the release of these songs. Hence, the new album…

At a little over 30 minutes, these eight songs are not surprisingly very similar to TPAB musically. There are the same ambient instrumentals, with heavy influence from funk, jazz, and soul. Lyrically, Lamar ambitiously tackles both his  own demons and the problems of the world, especially poverty, racism, and escaping the hood, often synthesizing the two themes with great skill.

‘Untitled 1’ is a powerful opening full of apocalyptic imagery:

                 The tallest building crawling, cracking, crumbling/ With a baby, daisies, and other flowers burning in destruction/ The smell is disgusting, the heat is unbearable… Valleys and high places turn into dust/ Famous screaming in agony/ Atheists for suicide, planes falling out the sky.”

‘Untitled 02’ centers on Kendrick’s life of superstardom, in contrast to his hometown, Compton, and ‘Untitled 03’ creatively addresses Kendrick’s relations with different races and his exploitation by the white establishment.

‘Untitled 04’ alternates between beautiful but simple song parts and a monologue Lamar whispers in rapid-fire speech, making for a very unique song.  

Things take a darker turn with ‘untitled 05’, focusing on the destructive behaviors that result from poverty:

                 See I’m livin’ with anxiety, duckin’ the sobriety/ F^(%*!’ up the system, I ain’t f^(%*!‘ with society/ Justice ain’t free, therefore justice ain’t me/ So I justify his name on the obituary… Once upon a time I used to go church and talk to God/ Now I’m thinkin’ to myself , hollow tips is all I got/ Now I’m drinking by myself  

Untitled 06’ is extraordinarily funky, even by the standards of this album and TPAB, lifting up the listener from the previous track’s darkness.  

But ‘untitled 07’ is probably the best song on the whole album. It is divided into three parts: a manic and cocky intro, a depressive and self-doubting middle, and a calmed ending, making for a musical rollercoaster.

As a closer, ‘untitled 08’ continues the theme of the difficulties faced by black Americans, mainly their financial difficulties, but musically, it isn’t depressing.

Lamar’s untitled unmastered has the same musical versatility and experimentation as TPAB, but as it wasn’t intended to be released, it lacks the same cohesion and vision as his studio albums. It might not be a masterpiece, but it wasn’t intended to be. Anyone who likes Lamar and especially anyone who likes TPAB would enjoy this album.