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untitled unmastered.

by Kendrick Lamar

Released March 4, 2016 via Top Dawg Ent / Aftermath Entertainment / Interscope Records

Reviewed March 1, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
untitled 05 (60%), untitled 02 (59%), untitled 07 (56%)

The craftsmanship and completeness of 2015’s To Pimp A Butterfly might have drained a normal rapper dry of their motif pool, but Kendrick Lamar isn’t a normal rapper. Released less than a year after what is widely considered his most important album to date, untitled unmastered. follows in generally the same direction, both sonically and conceptually. With it essentially being a collection of demos stemming from the sessions of the previous album, there are imperfections within the body of tracks, typical of the jazz-adjacent style, that gives an extra trace of rawness to an already passionate performance. Lamar’s zealous and commanding lyricism is as potent as we have come to expect, and with familiar guest vocalists (Anna Wise, Bilal, Jay Rock) and production credits (Terrace Martin, Thundercat, Adrian Younge), untitled unmastered. really does act like an appropriate “deluxe” type continuation to one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. – Pax (8.7/10)

While marketed and categorized as a collection of demos, Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered. holds enough weight to distance itself from the shadow of To Pimp A Butterfly. These remnants from the recording process of his 2015 album follow similar themes that question the foundational and philosophical beliefs of our society, as well as continue his experimentation with more avant-garde jazz and funk sounds. Even with “untitled 07” (better recognized as “levitate”) serving as a clear-cut high point and taking up nearly one-fourth of the album’s time, each of these eight tracks serve enough purpose to make you question why they were ever scrapped. – Dominick (8.2/10)

Many consider it a rough compilation of leftover demos, but untitled unmastered. is well-polished in some areas, and a consistently stimulating experience, despite its brevity and hugely varying track lengths (which can be anywhere from under two minutes to over eight). It bridges the sonic gap between Kendrick Lamar’s contrasting tentpole records, To Pimp A Butterfly and DAMN., without hindering their cohesion of plot and themes. This may be through, say, the trap-inspired beat with orbiting saxophonic squeals on “untitled 02,” or how grandiose yet laid-back “untitled 06” is. From Lamar’s vocal range and Thundercat’s sensual bass-playing to the expressive brass-work and washed out, authentic percussion, untitled unmastered. should remain unignored and unassailable. – Cam (7.3/10)

Jared: 9/10 | Hadley: 9/10 | Pax: 8.7/10 | DeVán: 8.5/10 | Dominick: 8.2/10

Alan: 8/10 | Enth: 8/10 | Peter: 7.5/10 | Cam: 7.3/10


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