Surprise albums are a glorious thing, especially when dropped by one of the most important artists in music today. In retrospect, Kendrick Lamar has been hinting about this spontaneous deluge of jazz enthused rap for a while now, deciding to drop cuts off untitled unmastered on his many TV and award ceremony performances, ahead of the critically acclaimed material available on To Pimp a Butterfly.
The mysterious dates accompanying each track seem to suggest these tracks were recorded during the TPAB sessions, and it's clear Kendrick created this material whilst in the same artistic mindset.
The live instruments are at the forefront of every track, the jazz brass and piano creating a sense of unrest and chaos whenever they're used. Lyrically, the socio-political themes are still very much there, the anger, the passion and bite are present in every track, making these so called "off-cuts" sound just as vital as any material we've heard from Lamar before.
Stand outs include Untitled 2, a dark track that taps into the atmosphere created on TPAB track U, climaxing in a spine tingling rap premiered on the Jimmy Fallon performance you can see above. The repetitive cymbal smash sample and bass run on Untitled 5 give way to culturally charged anger from not just Kendrick but Top Dawg label mates Punch and Jay Rock. How this can be considered an off cut is beyond me.
Untitled 7 is the other stand out track on this album, consisting of three segments, each more off the wall than the next. Psychedelic trap beats are the back drop for contemplation on what can make us "levitate, levitate, levitate, levitate". The next section (segued via a choir and child singing about Compton) is a short shrift account of the feelings of superiority after fame and getting back to his roots. The final part is a live recording inside the studio, which finds Kendrick in a more light hearted mood than anywhere else on this record.
All in all, this is a great addition to an already carer defining record, these tracks promising to add a new lease of life into his live performances whilst keeping the fans guessing on what to expect next from one of the most important artists in the world today.
Pimp pimp. Hooray!