Untitled, Unedited

Kendrick Lamar’s newest album, “Untitled Unmastered” does for “To Pimp a Butterfly” what “Section.80” did for “Good Kid M.A.A.D. City.” Lamar is the musician I complained the world didn’t have when I was in high school listening to “All Eyez on Me,” “The Chronic,” and “Straight Outta’ Compton,” for the first time. I heard creative, clever, authentic voices reeling through 16 bar verses that were miles ahead of anything Young Joc, Chingy or Chamillionaire had ever come up with and I was jealous. I was jealous that I did not have the good fortune to grow up in an era when the popular music of the time wasn’t awful.

Then I heard “Good Kid, M.A.A.D.” City, Lamar’s second studio album. It rocked my world. It was such an improvement upon what artists like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac had done for rap years before. The album had a narrative and subtlety lacking in the music industry. Then he followed it up with “Section.80,” which cemented “Good Kid’s” iconic status.

Lamar’s most recent album—full of jazzy beats and vocal playacting—recalls the style of his 2015 album, “To Pimp a Butterfly.” It almost feels like a continuation of the album. It builds off of it, goes off in some variable directions (it gets a little trap-esq), but is ultimately related to its predecessor. It is a complimentary list of tracks that serve to illustrate just how important “To Pimp” was.

Tracks 03, 04, 06 and 07 are the best on the album, meaning that at least half of the album is very, very good. The funky CeeLo Green vocals on “Untitled 06” make it the most likely to get radio play, however, the social messages in “Untitled 03” and the messages to the music industry in “Untitled 07” make them more complicated and interesting songs. “Untitled 04” is clever and trippy, building off of a riff that happens elsewhere on the album.
Kendrick Lamar is hip hop’s saving grace. “Untitled Unmastered” is a mixtape style album that affirms “To Pimp’s” jazzy genius.

—Will McQuilkin, Arts & Entertainment Editor