King Kendrick doesn’t do much wrong. The writers writer, the young man’s poet , is the reason more artists with something real to say are coming out of the shadows. To Pimp A Butterfly was considered – it was so sharp in points that the blade was almost invisible unless you pressed into the content. Untitled Unmastered isn’t that – it is a long way from a finished product and that’s it’s intent.
That message it presents is it’s greatest weakness . It does not feel lazy but at times you feel tired. For the most part it’s from expectation . you want the machine gun to fire , you want the large gospel word to rain from the roof but all you get is an after party. Imagine leaving a Kendrick concert and you head backstage and Kendrick and his band decide to pick up the instruments for a wind down session.
If you look at it through that lense then the album is as expected – flashes of brilliance amongst future edits and cuts. Untitled 01 full of energy while hes still fresh off stage breaks into a toast of ‘pimp pimp’ on Untitled 2. Jazz to soul – standing to seated by Untitled 5. It ends up being frustrating as a listener but at the same time still deeply personal and intoxicating as you try to puzzle together where this surprise album spawned. Was it an album of pieces he left behind? Was it always the intended album? TDE’s Punch gave some insight that Untitled referred to a Kendrick’s homage to a Black Album (Prince) but overall it should be seen as a statement of freedom.
The album is unmastered on purpose but free and up to the brim in spirituality and Kendrick explores a sea of concepts from the exploitation of musicians through to the relationship of god, youth and crime. As you sit in the purposeful afterparty you pick up more and more of Kendrick releasing the final chains from the days of High Power. The modern sound left behind , the over production shed and the need to reign in the content he chooses to discuss obliterated with To Pimp A Butterfly . This is not perfection and it can be frustrating but overall its an incredibly strong piece of work and a rightful 2016 top 10 entrant.