The fact of the matter is, I hear a lot of people drone on about how mainstream Kendrick Lamar has become, but that ultimately shouldn’t be a concern. As artists go, you can trust that KDot will be on the pulse and echo his feelings about issues in a very elaborate, articulate fashion. In an era of acceptability and tolerance of mundane, bargain bin hip-hop that spits verses about women, Class A drugs and supercars, Kendrick Lamar is refreshingly honest, raw and cutting about public themes and (inter)national problems. Race is often tackled and, with his list of top connections and with such a large following, the ongoing adversity that many face is brought to the forefront as an extremely important diversity issue that the US and beyond still haven’t taken enough measures to solve. For that reason, how can you not appreciate Kendrick? He’s revolutionary – and that’s not even mentioning his insane beats and creative instrumental hooks.
Once you get past the dialogue at the beginning of untitled 01 (I’ll just shorten the titles to their numbered names, for my own ease of typing), piano keys push the fast drums to mirror the rapidity of Kendrick’s lines. It isn’t the strongest on this surprise record, but its speed and harsh lyrics make it so good. The rising intonation and tinkling sounds of untitled 02 are matched to that of a snake charmer’s pungi, whilst the minor chords throughout the rest of the track enhances its originality.
The grooves and snippets of female vocals make untitled 03 catchy, upbeat and fiercely addictive. Despite its frivolous funk sounds, the lyrics still push the envelope and bring in various notions about race and the fruits of labour. Interesting concepts are penned here, and the track is way too short, in my mind, but the melody is energetic and just ace. Government misleading the youth is traversed delicately and elegantly in the male and female lungs of untitled 04, in an unfolding tale atop bursts of instruments. This trickles into the overt jazz elements of untitled 05, which is definitely another ripper.
untitled 06 has a strangely peaceful ‘lift music’ feel about it, with its flutes and interjections lyrically from the very badass, soulful Cee Lo Green, who allegedly also had some degree of production influence, along with Egypt, the young son of Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats. The sharp, tottering drums and heckled “Pimp pimp”s of untitled 07 are cool and intelligent, which then tumble into a pretty white hot beat, and some discussion of deriving from Compton. Relevant. The final track, obviously called untitled 08, is groovy and up-tempo, closing this sneaky new record in such a fabulous way. The beats slightly resemble that of Snoop Dogg’s most recent, which is just a bonus. Kendrick, keep doing what you’re doing.
If you only download one track, let it be: ‘untitled 03’