I woke up this morning, did my pull ups, got my green tea and pulled out my phone to check the day’s news: MoD working with Fatman Scoop. The annual duck festival getting banned. Kendrick dropping a new album…wait, what? A new album? With what material?!
The same material he’s been dangling in front of us at various live performances, that’s what! The now infamous “Untitled” trilogy. After many people asking if he’d ever release them and Cornrow Kenny initially saying no, he decided to give us a belated Valentine’s gift: an 8 track album of untitled tracks called Untitled Unmastered. Kendrick has just done a Beyonce better than Beyonce herself.
Now we all know the trend that has now started with artists ambushing us with albums; Beyonce did it, J. Cole kind of did it and now Kendrick has done it. We can ask the whys, the hows, but personally I don’t care – I’m just glad we got it. There is, however, a question I feel needs addressing. I’ve seen many people ask, “How did these tracks not make it onto TPAB?”
Allow me to shed a little light on this. Albums take so long to record because it isn’t just the dozen tracks you receive at the end of the road. Albums are lots of tracks recorded over whatever long time period then narrowed down to the dozen tracks we then get. Albums have to often come with a narrative, a connecting thread, a sense of coherency and consistency. Abandon your shock and awe for a moment and then listen to Kendrick’s latest next to TPAB…
They don’t fit. Yes, Kendrick’s admiration of jazz and combining it with contemporary influences is coming to the fore on both this and TPAB but the ratios are different. These tracks don’t resonate at the same frequency as Kendrick’s last album, they don’t slot into the narrative and journey that TPAB takes us on – hence they didn’t make the cut. However, that’s not a bad thing, because these sonic exiles band together in this project just fine; a jigsaw made perfect because all the pieces are imperfect. Misfits.
I’m not going to waterfall at the mouth about the quality of musicianship, lyricism, subject matter… You already know the standard by now. What I will say is this: what Kendrick is starting to advocate it seems, like many artists coming through now, is a musical glass window; a transparency into what recording projects and what’s left to fall at the wayside is actually like. He’s not the first to do this but he is at the forefront of exposing happy accidents that only other musicians and artists would probably be aware of. This, combined with the actual quality of the work, is exactly why he has done a Beyonce better than Queen Bey herself… This isn’t really that much of a marketing stunt in the same vein, it’s simply him listening, acknowledging and going “Ok, take them.”
Kendrick has given us a gift. We asked for these songs, we got them. TDE president has declared there will be a veritable flood of music coming from his artists and this is simply the first shower. So all I ask is, now you’ve got a taste of what Kendrick is offering, don’t sleep on his labelmates. If you like him, chances are you will be spoilt for choice when you wake up to what Ab-Soul, Isiah Rashad, Schoolboy Q, Jay-Rock and SZA have for you.
For now, make sure to stream it via Spotify!