Untitled unmastered arrived Just a year after To Pimp A Butterfly and consists the same kind of sound design and lyricism found in the best album of last year. However these tracks are a gathered collection of curios, rather than more detailed structures of the previous album. In lesser hands and with lesser talent behind the making of this work it could have come across as a cash grab to get some extra money from fans clamouring for any new material. However the quality of the music and the mix of this album only enhances the experience of listening to these smaller and sometimes more experimental ideas.
This collection of tracks at varied stages of completion are blended together in an almost dreamlike way. They create a style and sound that represents an artist during and incredibly creative time period with the same thoughts and contradictions found on To Pimp A Butterfly but in a structure that is at times more instinctive. Allowing moments to wonder off the path and into the subconscious. This is exemplified in the instrumentation and its “unmastered” treatment with drums often sounding a lot looser and natural with a swing and an organic sound closer to free Jazz then Hip-hop. The mix also allows the elements of the instrumentation to drift around in volume with slow mixes and panning as instruments float about the stereo field.
Add these disparate elements together and it could have been an incomprehensible mess but Kendricks usual hard hitting lyrics and cutting delivery anchor them in place. On tracks like Untitled 5 they are delivered with such anger and command in structure that when they arrive they become both the lead element and the drive for the track that you would usually expect from the rhythm section. It’s this contradiction between the massive verity of experimental styles and the solid grounding of experienced rap that enhances them both to make this piece as a whole one of the best works to come out this year.
Kendrick Lamar has managed to do something that many artists never achieve. Create the best album of the previous year and then come off the back of it with a work that both appeases the fans before they get to restless whilst also wiping the slate clean for the direction of his next album. It’s a rare and momentous achievement and for that alone it deserves to be on my end of year list.