After his mind blowing performances on Colbert and the Grammy’s, where he released incredible, never before heard tracks, fans were thirsting for more Kendrick material. They wanted more of his passion, intellect, and lyrical genius. They wanted more of his social awareness and musical ingenuity.
And holy shit did he deliver.
At midnight, March 4th, untitled, unmastered dropped. A collection of eight pieces, each with “untitled,” a number, and the date completed as its title, this EP has the full Kendrick experience. There are tracks that feel like his m.A.A.d. City works, and others that have the distinct bite and awareness of Butterfly. What’s astounding though, is that the tracks were all created far apart from each other, yet the collection flows almost as well as his full length works.
The surprise LP furthers Kendrick’s reputation as a lyrical genius. It also continues his use of complex musical tracks, infused with Funk, Soul, Jazz, and the usual R&B and Hip-Hop vibes. 07 backs off halfway through to a simple blues guitar finger picking pattern with scratchy, genuine feeling audio. It sounds like Kendrick and a bunch of old black men sitting in a room with a tape recorder playing the blues for the rest of the track and it is amazing. And when that fades away, it immediately turns into a very Herbie Hancock-esque intro to 08.
untitled hits the common Kendrick motifs, he begins a song about social, environmental and political issues with masks of themes on sex, drugs, and being from the hood. 01, opens with “come here, girl” and he proceeds to talk about sex until he casually transitions into talking about life and legacy. 02 opening with chants of “Pimp-pimp, Hooray!” which reprises on 07, transitioning into talks about the difficulties of reaching and maintaining success as a black man.
Kendrick’s lyrics are actual literature. His vernacular paints a picture of what society thinks of a black man from Compton, but his prose and his word play eloquently allude to an array of themes: the Black Lives Matter movement, living as a poor black male in America, Compton and its symbolism in society, drugs, equality, terrorism, suicide, economic hardships, religion, the music industry, and unity.
There is a reason that President Obama said To Pimp A Butterfly was the best album of 2015. It highlights the issues of today. Kendrick’s untitled works keep up that precedent. He teamed up with other prominent African American musicians and producers with similar social, cultural and music views as him for this project. This includes: CeeLo Green, Terrace Martin, Thundercat, Anna Wise, Sounwave, and even Swizz Beatz’s son, Egypt. Each feature brings a new perspective to the work, making the listener think hard about the meaning. Perhaps the most haunting is Egypt’s anthemic ode to Compton.
Kendrick’s works are the soundtrack for the New Civil Rights Movement. He is continuously asking why the system locks up a black man for trying to get by, why they condemn him for the same crime they slap a white man’s wrist for. “Justice ain’t free, therefore justice ain’t me,” he says on “untitled 05,” highlighting that in this land of liberty, it comes at a price. Each track is noticeably deep and complex, with countless possible interpretations.
This man is one of the most prolific voices for the problems of today. He is the music of the Movement. He is a major voice of Black Lives Matter. His music going to be studied by schools in the generations to come. Like the Beatles, the Who, Hendrix and Joplin were to the counterculture of the 60’s, Kendrick Lamar is going to be seen as a pivotal figure to the social revolution of the 2010’s. Whatever he has coming next will surely blow us all away.