Kendrick Lamar - 2016
At the risk of repeating myself for the 1,000th time, one of my biggest pet peeves is when artists don’t know when/how to edit their work down to the appropriate length. Sometimes that IS a double album for sure, but more often than not there are a few extra tracks on an album, who’s addition ends up subtracting from the overall impact of the good work done. Blame should be spread around between the artist, producer, record labels, etc. depending on the case, but regardless, the end result is all that matters.
Kendrick’s 2015 album "To Pimp A Butterfly” is a masterpiece by any measure. I wouldn’t change one note on that album. Not one track, one note, one lyric….nothing. It’s a major accomplishment to write a 16 track, 80 minute album as deep, thoughtful, musical, etc. as TPAB, and undoubtedly part of that craft is knowing what to chisel away in order to end up with the final product. Untitled Unmastered is a collection of demos and unfinished tracks from the TPAB sessions. As the name implies, these tracks are untitled and unmastered. For whatever reason they didn’t fit into the arc of TPAB, so they were left on the cutting room floor. The bottom line is that Kendrick Lamar’s leftovers are better than almost anyone’s best work. He’s at his peak right now. A pure, creative genius, doing his best work. He knows what he’s doing, and most importantly he has great taste. He knows how to be a poet, an MC, a band leader, producer, etc., and these tracks help to show that better than possibly his main albums, since THIS is the quality of songs that are left behind. Like TPAB sonically, there's plenty of jazz laden, funky stuff here, mixed with heady poetry. The unmastered, raw sound of the tracks is a welcome left turn from Kendrick’s usual sound of impeccable production.
There’s not much to say here, except that these tracks don’t need mastering or titles, because they serve a purpose naked. They add an element to Lamar’s already impressive body of work that you don't always get to see in the rap world. Rappers don’t usually like to show their scratch work, but "Untitled Unmastered” confirms what we already knew about Kendrick’s talent. He’s another level.
In December 2014 Lamar appeared on the final episode of The Colbert Report, and performed what is now called “Untitled 3”. At the time it was rumored that he had written it the day before, but the date for the track on the album is 5/28/13, so who knows. I remembering watching the performance and being floored. Then when TPAB came out, the track wasn’t on there! Ahhhhh! Anyway, we have it now, and the performance is below….
Posted by Tambe