It’s always a nice surprise when someone of Kendrick Lamar’s magnitude drops a surprise project. Seemingly out of nowhere, on Friday (4th March) we were blessed with untitled, unmastered- a short but sweet, half-an-hour project filled with songs that ultimately didn’t make the cut for whatever reason. As the man himself says- ‘I got a chamber of material from the album (To Pimp A Butterfly) that I was in love [with], where sample clearances or something as simple as a deadline kept it off the album.’
untitled, unmastered is definitely just that- a scattered arrangement of slightly-less-refined thought processes, with nothing but a date used in identification. As you might imagine, the direction of the album is mirroring of To Pimp A Butterfly, with most tracks effortlessly cosying itself within the funk-fueled material found on Lamar’s sophomore. As such, the content and sound of untitled, unmastered is very familiar. From the Anna Wise vocalisations, strangled trumpets and manic Thundercat baselines, perhaps untitled, unmastered is too familiar.
The internet has continued to make comparisons between untitled, unmastered and The Life of Pablo and I can certainly understand why. In the same way I was frustrated with The Life of Pablo, untitled, unmastered is structurally lost, and although I’m sure this has been intentional, it makes for a hit-and-miss listen from a consumer point of view. Songs change, tempos are switched, things stop, things start, Lamar’s flow is altered, pitch altered, content altered, untitled, unmastered isn’t a straightforward start-to-finish listen.
untitled, unmastered is clearly an after-thought following To Pimp A Butterfly- and I was naive into thinking there may be some ‘new new’ material on it. While TPAB was an exceptional piece of music, it wasn’t the most ‘listenable’ album, one that you could bump 24/7 for example. Bluntly put- untitled, unmastered is a continuation of this. Excellence is always apparent with Kendrick Lamar, and his latest LP is home to some just as excellent material, however that being said, for me a 17-track To Pimp A Butterfly was already enough.
Verdict – WWW