For most artists, 'untitled unmastered.' would be a career high-point. For Kendrick, it's just a step on the way.
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment
Released: March 4th 2016
Kendrick Lamar may have it all. A year on from his modern classic ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, he was still riding the wave of a record so good - so unanimously lauded - that nothing since had managed to cross critical boundaries in quite the same way. Eleven Grammy nominations put mainstream titans like Taylor Swift in his shadow, but never one by being obnoxious. Just brilliant on every level. Not just a game changer, but a platform bending revolution; for all his contemporaries spit and bluster, he was an artist suddenly without peer.
And then, without warning, he does it all again.
Not in a calm, considered way. Not with a record he’s been crafting to perfection - a definitive statement or victory lap - but with a collection of ideas gathered over a period of years, tied together and, as the title suggest, ‘untitled unmastered.’
The thread is there, if pulled. ‘untitled 03’ was performed on US TV back in September 2014. ‘untitled 2’, meanwhile, got an airing this January just past. As a selections offcuts and demos, they’re better than some notable artist’s albums proper. The themes remain there, the constant motion of a true artist firmly present.
The fact this is a comma, not full stop between records only makes it more remarkable. Few others would put their sketches on public display, but Kendrick Lamar is always moving. With his cupboard bare, where he goes next is limited only by his own imagination.