Kendrick Lamar is without a doubt one of the single greatest artists of our time, constantly redefining what hip-hop can be and what it can do. Since his 2010 “Overly Dedicated” mixtape, Lamar has only built up steam, turning into a musical powerhouse.
Lamar has blessed us with four nearly perfect albums, and now he’s released his fifth, named “untitled unmastered.”
With this release, Lamar has shown how much he has developed as an artist. As usual, the lyrics are highly intellectual, focusing on themes of excess, ego, poverty, race and government.
Lamar’s new album has a similar jazz influenced sound to his last release “To Pimp A Butterfly,” but he demonstrates a new side of the artist as well.
Song for song, “untitled unmastered” may be one of Kendricks best releases to date. The depth of this album is unreal, it’s sound is distinctly Lamar. The lyrics on the album leave the listener trying to catch up and are complemented by beautiful, innovative beats.
“untitled unmastered” features jazzy instrumentation and haunting vocal layering. Lamar also samples tracks from the band Funkadelic and receives vocal support from various artists, such as Cee Lo Green.
One of the most haunting moments on “untitled unmastered” is in the fourth track, “untitled 04 | 08.14.2014.,” where whispered vocals creep in the background and rattle around in your brain.
Rumor has it that the track “untitled 07 | 2014-2016” was produced by Alicia Key’s 5-year-old son Egypt. If that’s the case, Egypt did an excellent job. “untitled 07 | 2014-2016” is an eight minute track that goes from banger to classic Lamar. The track finishes with Lamar singing solo over a lo-fi, bluesy guitar riff.
Throughout the duration of the album we here the phrase “head is the answer, head is the future” repeated. Perhaps Lamar is suggesting that a clear, educated mind is truly powerful. Being a man from a neglected generation, one can see how Lamar would value education and intellect.
Is he saying that intelligence is the only way to escape systematic oppression and poverty? Woah, man.
Kendrick Lamar is one of few hip-hop artists with the brains to orate the darker sides of this nation, our society and human nature. He is a philosopher, a man seeking to enlighten and empower through his art.