Kendrick Lamar releases intriguing but redundant album “Untitled Unmastered”

Jesse Greene

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Kendrick Lamar’s latest album “Untitled Unmastered” is a compilation of unfinished demos and tracks recorded for Lamar’s Grammy award-winning album “To Pimp A Butterfly.” “Untitled Unmastered,” which was released March 4, was a surprise to music platforms such as Spotify and iTunes.

Lamar gave his audience several sneak peeks of this collection though, mixing and mashing them up to create unique live performances on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “The Colbert Report” and even in his amazingly pro-black Grammy performance this year.

The album features collaborations with big names like CeeLo Green, who hasn’t been on our musical radar since his hit single “Forget You.”

Other collaborations include Anna Wise, neo-soul powerhouse SZA and Thundercat. Thundercat performed a set on the Hilltop during last semester’s Hillfest and has gained much attention in the media these past few months.

It’s easy to compare this album to other “reject” albums, such as Drake’s Grammy-nominated “If You’re Reading This,” which is a compilation of music from his upcoming “Views from the 6.”

But as President Obama addressed in an interview regarding Lamar in January, “his lyrics, his last album was outstanding.”

And he’s right. Lamar in “Untitled Unmastered” brings back his usual powerfully-gripping social commentary that made “To Pimp A Butterfly” the president’s favorite album of last year.

The jazz-infused, raw, soulful and funky series of music that Lamar pulls from over the course of three years of production definitely has its upsides.

The album-spanning refrain of “Pimp pimp hooray!,” “untitled 07”’s call to action “Levitate” and the pro-education message in “untitled 04” of “Head is the answer/future” all give fans an insight into the genius behind his last album.

They do seem redundant after listening to both “To Pimp a Butterfly” and “Untitled Unmastered” but with good reason, as Lamar was rotating songs around for that entire three-year period.

The songs that stand out the most of the eight tracks were “untitled 02” and “untitled 03.”

With the memorable squeaky tone of his voice and the lines “Get God on the phone, said it won’t be long” in the chorus of “untitled 02,” Lamar laments the difficulty of managing stereotypes and sometimes fulfilling negatives ones of the African-American diaspora.

In “untitled 03,” his “What did the _ man say?” shows the perspectives of different races and the cultural ideologies that they have regarding one another. Both of these tracks tie well together despite being written almost a year apart.

I would suggest listening to the tracks in chronological order according to the dates in the second half of the song titles. It would be in this order: 03, 02, 06, 04, 01, 08, 05, 07.

I recommend this method after trying it several times myself; it is interesting to see Lamar’s thought process and subject matter develop over time.

Lamar is one creative man, and “Untitled Unmastered” is an intriguing look into a very creative and talented mind at work.