Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Valentine's Day Bingo
February 24, 2024

untitled unmaster Album review

“Pimp, Pimp!…Hooray!….Pimp, Pimp!…Hooray!” These shouts of joy, almost of victory, are heard all throughout Kendrick Lamar’s latest release, untitled unmastered, which dropped on March 4. Fans had been waiting for Kendrick to release new music, especially after his release of the Black Friday project back in November 2015, in which him and fellow rapper J. Cole rapped over instrumentals of one another’s songs; Kendrick rapping over A Tale of Two Citiez and J. Cole rapping over Alright, in which Cole hinted at the dropping of a collaboration album between himself and Lamar, something that has been talked about and supposedly in the works for a long time. Many waited in anticipation, but February came and went with nothing to show. In March, however, came something no one was expecting. Leading up to the release of the album, Kendrick had been tweeting about his plan to release new music. Shortly after Kendrick’s announcement that new music was soon to come, NBA star Lebron James tweeted at Kendrick and Top Dawg Entertainment CEO Anthony Tiffith, asking what was going on and pressing them to release Lamar’s untitled tracks, and it worked. Thanks to King James the album was released a day early.
The album contains eight tracks and is just over half hour long. The songs on the album were ones that Lamar has performed live dating as far back as 2013, and up to a few months before his release of To Pimp a Butterfly last year in 2015, for which he won seven Grammy awards and received critical acclaim. Songs from his previous album have become important pieces of culture and have become anthems and chants; most recently when a group of protestors at Donald Trump rally came together jumping up and down and chanting “We gon’ be alright, we gon’ be alright!” Many have argued that the tracks on his latest release were leftover sessions from To Pimp a Butterfly, which is most likely true for some but not all the tracks. untitled unmastered is classic Kendrick; insightful, emotional, thought-provoking and covering topics ranging from his own spirituality and role as a messiah, to stories of his past struggles and experiences. The album feels like an extension of the world initially created by Kendrick in To Pimp a Butterfly not only in lyrical content, but also in sound. We hear a lot of the jazzy overtones and driving beats that were prominent on To Pimp a Butterfly. Although it does have some of the same feel and vibes as his previous album, the structure and feel of his latest album is much more relaxed and feels as though it was thrown together for fun and the fans more than anything else. Lamar is joined by other artists on several different tracks, artists such as; Cee-Lo Green, Jay Rock, and Adrian Younge.
As mentioned before, untitled unmastered covers many different topics and each song brings something interesting to the table. On the album’s first track we hear Kendrick describing his vision of what can be assumed to be the end of times as he is brought before God and his life laid out before him. Interestingly enough each of the songs on the album is subtitled with a date, which are assumed to be the dates when each song was created. If this hold true, the first song on the album, which is subtitled with the date 8.19.2014, shows that Kendrick was talking to God about To Pimp a Butterfly long before the actual release of the album. Lamar speaks to God saying “I made To Pimp a Butterfly for you, told me to use my vocals to save mankind for you, say I didn’t try for you, say I didn’t ride you, or tithe for you, or push the club to the side for you, who love you like I love you”. And we hear lyrics like this throughout the album speaking on spirituality and his relationship with God. In the following song we hear him pleading “Get God on the phone!” God isn’t the only one he’s talking to in these songs. On untitled 06 it sounds like he’s talking to a woman, and explaining himself and why he might seem strange to her; “Don’t be scared of me girl, let me explain”. On untitled 03, Kendrick goes through conversations he has with four different people, and Asian, a Indian (as in Native American), a black man, and a white man and the advice each gives. The Asian man tells him to seek out Eastern Philosophy and peace of mind, the Native American man tells him to obtain land, the black man tells him to follow the ways of lust, and the white man is concerned only with the money that is to be made from Lamar’s music. While Kendrick provides insight and a look into his personal experiences he also takes the time for what feels a victory lap and untitled 07, which leaves you singing “levitate, levitate, levitate” and somewhat in untitled 02. In each of the tracks Kendrick takes the role of hype man for himself with a steady flow of lyrics boasting his accomplishments and abilities.
These are just a few of my favorite tracks on the albums and songs that stood out to me personally. The album contains so much in its thirty-four minute run time that it blows my mind. I didn’t even realize how much he actually talks about and says on the album until I sat down and had to pick what to write about. I loved the flows and roles displayed on the album in addition to the colorful array of vibes pushed through by each song. Like on his previous album, Kendrick jumps into several different characters by changing the inflection, pitch, and tone of his voice. It’s something truly amazing to listen to; from church choir singer singing praises, to ruthless villain ready to blow someone’s brains out, to hype man and back. He’s an actor putting on a play and telling stories setting the stage and performing with only his voice. It stands as a testament to Kendrick’s ability as a rapper and musician. What is most exciting to me is that the album feels like a throw-away album that Kendrick just decided one day to throw the album together for kicks and giggles and yet each song grabs and holds your attention and is great to listen to  musically, and lyrically. It makes me excited for whatever may come next from Kendrick Lamar. I highly recommend listening to this album if you haven’t yet. It is a great album, and my only problem with it being that I wish it were longer. Keep a sharp eye out for whatever may come next from Kendrick, I know I will be. Maybe we’ll finally see that collaboration album! 

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untitled unmaster Album review