Review Summary: Pimp pimp.......HURRAY!
Not quite a year has passed since Kendrick brought us TPAB, yet he has already given us something else to spice up 2016 with. Untitled Unmastered is a bombshell in more ways than one. One would expect a release such as this which comes so soon after another one to be nothing more than a mixed bag of cuts that didn't make the album, but this is nothing of the sort. With Untitled Unmastered, Kendrick Lamar uses the element of surprise to evoke a feeling from outside the box upon his listeners once again. It is with atmosphere and lyrics that this project solidifies itself as a worthwhile listen, and pleasant surprise.
Dark and raw are the best words to describe the atmosphere of most of this project. Kendrick brings us live instrumentation that was introduced to us on his last album, but with a darker twist. Untitled 1 begins with its borderline disturbing intro that transcends into a very chaotic beat. The drums are upbeat and are accompanied by droning synth keys as well as spiraling piano keys. The whole track sounds like a descent into madness as Kendrick raps over the chaos. Another example of dark atmosphere would be Untitled 2. Kendrick's eerie singing over the ghostly beat makes the track sinister and a bit unsettling. The way the track fades in seems somewhat similar to the beginning of "u" from TPAB. There are also tracks on this project that are a bit lighter in tone like Untitled 3 with its soaring woodwind instruments, soft drums, and jazzy, poetry slam-esque snaps. Untitled 8 is another example as it has a definite Isley Brothers feeling to it as it is funky and soulful. These tracks are a bit lighter in tone like stated before but still feel as if they were recorded in the dead of night in absolute isolation from reality.
Untitled Unmastered has lyrics that are just as conscious and thought-provoking as any of Kendrick's other albums, but that doesn't reduce the impact of them in the least. Kendrick drops lines like: "(It's happening) no more running from world wars/no more discriminating the poor/no more bad b*tches and real n****s wishing for green and gold, the last taste of allure"(Untitled 1). These lyrics obviously delve into issues that are currently happening in the world, despite the fact that people wish for these issues to be "no more". Kendrick also takes time into perspective when he says: "The borderline between insanity is father time"(Untitled 5). These lyrics shows how the events of ones life can weigh one down and warp their mentality. The most notable lyrics are the ones in which Kendrick dispels his competition and makes his position of influence known. Kendrick says various things such as: "I can put a rapper on life support/Guarantee that's something none of you want"(Untitled 2), "I could never end a career if it never start"(Untitled 7), and "Hope it's evident that I inspired a thousand emcees to do better/I blew cheddar on youth centers, buildings and Bimmers and blue leather/Forcasted my future, this is the future/The mastermind until my next album, more power to you"(Untitled 7). These lyrics are braggadocios and confrontational and are being executed fairly well. The lines aren't overly complex, but say just enough to leave an impression. Kendrick's gift for bringing lyrics that matter does not falter on this release.
Overall, this was an extremely solid release from Kendrick Lamar. The atmosphere combined with the thought provoking and well executed lyrics make this project more than just a collection of b-sides. With this release, Kendrick shows that quality music can be released without maximum effort and mastery. He also raises the bar a slight bit higher as he sends his confrontational messages out to fellow rappers. With Untitled Unmastered, Lamar gives listeners something worthwhile to listen to until he releases something new in the future.
True Rating: 4.2