Did you come here for a fire take? You won't find one. Because untitled unmastered is one hell of an album.
Rolling Stone called it Kendrick Lamar's victory lap after To Pimp A Butterly and it's certainly that. It's Kendrick, almost a full year after the stellar TPAB, soaking it all in and saying that, nope nobody can do what I do still.
TPAB, you may recall, was the rapper's incredible and incredibly deep and multi-layered sophomore album, the one that tackled current and historical social themes, thematics and problematics, and does so in ways that no rapper really does anymore.
To Pimp A Butterfly was a logical step after good kid, m.A.A.d city: one man, not without his own personal demons, trying to make and find his way into the larger society, also not without its own ills and demons.
I have to mention TPAB in a review of untitled unmastered, because the latter is absolutely linked to the former. It incorporates many of the same sounds, themes and topics that made the first a hit and, though the running time says 35 minutes, it's far from a breeze listen. This isn't a bad thing.
It's a victory lap, yes let's get back to that, though this doesn't make it all fun and games. The album has the same dark and ominous sound that TPAB had but make no mistake: it's a celebration all the same of all that Kendrick has managed to accomplish in the past year, where he's become perhaps the foremost rapper this side of Kanye West. Speaking of Mr. West, when Kendrick boasts to "Get God on the phoooone!" it may be that he knows he is probably the lone artist to whom God would actually like to speak to. (Him, not Kanye, who's way too megalomaniacal.)
In fact, as you discover with untitled 01, maybe King Kendrick asks for God on the phone because he already has spoken with the Supreme One. "[You] told me to use my vocals to save mankind for you. [Don't] say I didn't try for you, say I didn't ride for you, or tithe for you, or push the club to the side for you."
As is made clear with the lack of names to the songs and to the project, all that matters with this album is the music. In this way, it's reminiscent of Kanye West's The Life of Pablo, where nothing but the final creation matters. (And in basically every other way, it's the opposite. Where TLOP is grandiose, large and loud, untitled unmastered is quiet and small because Kendrick doesn't need to reinvent the wheel.)
"Pimp, pimp: hooray!" beams Kendrick, throughout. He's made it, which means that the hood has made it too--because wherever Kendrick goes, so does the hood and the unfortunate reminder that someone like Kendrick isn't supposed to make it.
But we're so happy that he did.