Review: untitled unmastered. by Kendrick Lamar

untitled unmastered. by Kendrick LamarThere’s no easy way to look at untitled unmastered. The surprise release from Kendrick Lamar isn’t exactly being difficult, but rather, it’s being what it is: a surprise release, a collection of demos that don’t quite sound like demos, a complement to his sprawling To Pimp A Butterfly without quite documenting its progress. One is tempted to connect it to the themes of his last album, the formative stages of what would turn out to be his grand narrative on the state of things today. Or, maybe you could call it some sort of response, if not an unintentional parallel, to The Life of Pablo, Kanye West’s apparently still unfinished record about… something. Got an unfinished record? Here are unfinished rejects. Not that they are. There’s a restlessness to the tracks, prolonged riffs from jazzy interludes to honest-to-goodness conversations with God. He’s not throwing everything to the wall and seeing what sticks. I… I really don’t know. There is, again, no easy way to look at untitled unmastered. No polished narrative, no solid resolution. So we’ll just say this: it is what it is. And it is what you think it is. And whatever it is, it’s Kendrick Lamar at his best… or, well, his unpolished getting there, as it might turn out to be. [NB]4/5

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