“See I’m living with anxiety/ ducking that sobriety” – Kendrick Lamar, “untitled 05 | 09.21.14.”
Everytime I quit drinking, Kendrick Lamar drops a new album. I know what you’re thinking: that mutha fucka must’ve dropped 100 albums then! Funny. But after my big slips, K. Dot always comes to my rescue with some rehab music: hiiipower. No joke. Listening to good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp A Butterfly have been my longest stretches of sobriety. I once tweeted at Kendrick, thanking him for his music during the toughest moments in my life. And again, I’m at this point in my journey where I’m a slave to my addiction. I can’t explain it. I’m at a crossroads: comedy, rehab or what? But I’ll explain how I got here for another article.
Above all: I’m an addict for Hip-Hop. Dope beats. Dope rhymes. All I ask for. Boom. Box.
If I expect his newest jewel to keep me sober for long, I better pray hard because it’s only 8 songs. The unexpected EP dropped as a surprise, boasting an ambiguous name: unititled unmastered. The only hints we received were tweets by Top Dawg’s CEO telling us to prepare for new music. I expected Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, or even better, Isaiah Rashad. Not for one second did I expect another project by Kendrick Lamar. This dude is still flying high with the already classic, To Pimp A Butterfly. That was last year! And now, not even a month after winning Best Rap Album at the Grammy’s, Kendrick’s back at it with another ensemble. I’m a Kendrick fan, first and foremost, because his music is left up for interpretation. There are no song titles or listed features. All we have to play with are the dates these songs were supposedly created. There is one song from 2013, 6 songs from 2014, and 1 song from this year. It’s safe to say, this is Kendrick’s Lost Tapes, a collection of songs that give birth or never made it to TPABF.
The first track (2014) starts the project off with a perverse tone: a man asking a woman for sex and referring to her as lamb; Kendrick brings an end to this disturbing exchange, calling out the world for it’s sinful fetishes and warns of Holy War: (It’s happening) no more running from World Wars/ (It’s happening) no more discriminating the poor/ (It’s happening) no more bad bitches and real niggas. The second track (2014) is tragic and manic, my kind of Kendrick: perfectly intoxicated. It sounds like the song that gave birth to TPABF‘s “u,” with a turn’t up Kendrick throwing jabs at the syrup sipping dummies in rap and claiming TDE’s dominance: Me and Top is like Kobe and Phil/ a father figure fuck with him, you get killed/ fuck with me and he will kill you himself/ TDE the Mafia of the West. And in a time where my life is in a state of confusion, Kendrick drops some much needed knowledge on the third track (2013:) Meditation is a must, it don’t hurt if you try/ See you thinking too much plus you’re too full of yourself/ worried about your career, ever think about your health? The shortest song on the album, this one is my favourite because it sounds like the spiritualistic sperm that came from good kid, m.A.A.d city and punctured through the political egg which gave birth to the sound of To Pimp A Butterfly.
Track 5 sees guest appearances by Jay Rock and TDE President, Punch; Over a spray of drums, Jazz and piano, all three emcees deliver great verses detailing battles with vices and the “evils of Lucy.” Anna Wise kills with lovely vocals, but to be honest, this hook was meant for Amy Winehouse to sing: imagine that. The soulful track 6 (2014) sees the return of an almost forgotten Cee-Lo. I’ll admit, I was vibing the fuck out, hoping to God the familiar voice on the hook didn’t belong to Cee-Lo. It’s like I’m walking into a comedy club’s lobby, and I can hear funny jokes being told about Jello and parenting, but it better not be Bill Cosby on stage when I walk in there! That’s funny. Anyways, this brings us to the 7th track (2016,) which was probably recorded this week. This song is catchy and interesting, to say the least. I feel Kendrick was hanging out with Kanye too much during the recording of this three part song; I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. And to make things more fucked up, the beat was made by Swiss Beat’s 5 year old son, Egypt. As always, Kendrick got bars, though, giving us a possible preview for the future tone of his music: The greatest and latest mogul, you know what time it is/ You niggas fear me like y’all fear God/ You sound frantic, I hear panic in your voice/ Just know the mechanics of making your choice and writin’ your bars/ Before you poke out your chest, loosen your bra/ Before you step out of line and dance with the star/ I could never end a career if it never start. Wooooooh! Who’s he talking about? Political hiiipower.
The EP ends in same tone it started in, this time bringing G-Funk into the mix, warning humanity of what’s to come if we continue on this sinful road; however, Kendrick is no judge but he simply points out we wish to live with a lack of love and care for others. Is he wrong? Kendrick is not new to this kind of message. He’s been using politics and spirituality as a recipe for rap since Section 80. It’s not until listening to this I realized he has become the preacher the Compton inside him was afraid to be. This is truly one of Kendrick’s best works, and at the moment, I dare to say it’s better than TPABF. But like Nas’ Lost Tapes, does it really count? Let’s hope for another 24 hours. Peace.
“I did a lot of dumb shit in my past/ Lord forgive me, hoping I don’t relapse” – Kendrick Lamar, “untitled 06 | 06.23.14.”
RATING: 4.5/5 HIP HOP EXCELLENCE; DESTINED FOR CLASSIC STATUS
Buy this album and support the artist: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/untitled-unmastered./id1089846273