EP REVIEW | Kendrick Lamar’s “untitled unmastered.”

Kendrick Lamar

[Words By// @K1ngEljay]

Sometimes, just having clarity helps.

We’ve had projects from artists that weren’t quite finished released, recanted, and redone, leaving us in limbo (Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo for example, which is why that review is coming soon). We’ve had people that announced projects were finished and failed to give release dates. We’ve even had people announce general time frames for special projects and just miss the mark completely (J. Cole’s “Black Friday” session, but that could be due to Bas’ current success). I feel like we all appreciate artists more when they let their actions speak for them.

Which is why Kendrick Lamar is at the top of the list right now. After releasing his award-winning project To Pimp A Butterfly, he followed that up with a solid tour and a string of network television performances with new content. Each performance was notable, and almost each one had a different song. He became must-see television just through his actions. So when K. Dot released the untitled unmastered. EP out of nowhere with the clarity of its purpose (unmixed, unmastered tracks from the T.P.A.B. sessions), it was appreciated by his fans and promptly sold between 150k – 200k with no promo.

Kendrick Lamar 2

Ridiculous.

We could talk about the accolades, but that doesn’t quite hold weight if the content’s not as good. untitled unmastered features a couple of songs that could’ve easily been on To Pimp A Butterfly and held its own. The collection of untitled songs still – somehow – have a flowing vibe to it, and it’s by far more enjoyable in sequence. I’m not quite sure how Kendrick and his team accomplished it, but it’s refreshing to get a “deleted scenes” version of the project that’s as arguably as high of a quality as the initial album itself.

Even still, it’s a collection of loose singles that happens to flow together, and the brevity of it’s a quick reminder. Most of the songs are either short or have a sort of duality to them; “untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016” has three different segments to it, while “untitled 04” (feat. SZA and Lance Skiiwalker) – which, ironically is reference at the end of 07 – is less than two minutes long. You may recognize a couple of other tracks as well from various performances, such as “untitled 03 (feat. Bilal)” and “untitled 08“, and although the first doesn’t quite have the same impact as the timing on the Colbert Report, it’s still a dope track in its own right .

Boston Calling Music Festival

BOSTON – SEPTEMBER 8: Kendrick Lamar performs at the Boston Calling Concert on City Hall Plaza, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

At the end of the day, granted, untitled unmastered. is a collection of songs. However, it’s still remarkable how airtight the songs are, to the point where it almost feels like its own, refreshing project. I’m not sure if any other artist can pull off a collection of loose tracks as cohesively as TDE’s flag-bearer, and that’s more so proof of Kendrick’s attention to detail and care… and proof of his dominant position in the upper echelon – if not the top – of the rap game.


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