The Kendrick Chronicles: Untitled
When I woke up on March 4, 2016 I was just expecting it to be another day, but booooooy was I wrong. Kendrick Lamar decided to follow the blue print laid out by Beyonce and Drake, and dropped his album, Untitled Unmastered, out of no where. No media press runs, no singles before the album dropped, nothing. Which in this social media era is probably the smartest thing you can do, let me explain. J. Cole said it best, “You hate it before you played it, I already forgave ya,” people are so quick to fire off those tweets about how something they’ve never heard before is already trash. This gives the trolls no time to hate, this doesn’t allow them to make the memes of your album cover and just flame you all over Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. When everybody starts tweeting at the same time how great the music is, it derails most of the trolls because they don’t want to go against popular opinion. It’s weird but that’s just how the Internet works, it can make you or break you, just ask Iggy Azalea. Plus, not every artist can pull this off, like Drake and Beyonce, Kendrick has a cult like following that took YEARS to build. He has put in the grind and became the face of Hip-Hop, if he drops an album tomorrow in Spanish, you better believe we’re going to go buy it and give it a few spins.
Not only was the release unorthodox, but like always, the album was something we have never heard before. I’ve never witnessed an artist re-invent himself musically, album after album, and still staying true to whom he really is. It’s amazing; he gave us good kid, m.A.A.d city, completely switched it up for To Pimp A Butterfly (btw that album is more than just Hip-Hop, that album will go down as a piece of History.) Now, we’re here and he did it again.
This body of work, like the title suggest, is unmastered. It feels raw and genuine. You can feel the passion and anger in Kendrick’s voice. You can almost hear his vocal chords pull tighter many times throughout the album. Also, each song is uniquely dated, showing this body of work covers a three year span starting May 28th, 2013-2016. Pretty impressive that this album feels so cohesive and well put together when it was never written to be that way. Remember how I said he stays true to himself no matter what? This is a perfect example. These songs, for one reason or another, didn’t make the final cut for To Pimp A Butterfly so it’s packed with mental and political themes.
What really inspired me is how good this music made me feel on the inside. It took me somewhere; I could put this on and just go to another world. Music like that doesn’t come around too often. I got the idea to write an eight piece series to chronicle my thoughts, one piece per song. I’ve never read any album being reviewed over a series, if there is, I’d love to read it and see how they did it. But for me, I tried to approach this as Kendrick Lamar did the album, thinking outside the box and doing something completely original.
“Untitled 01| 08. 19.2014.”
The intro to this song sets the tone not only for the song, but also the entire album. Coming off his dominating Grammy night Kendrick has the music industry by the throat and he will until he decides to stop applying pressure. The intro sets an uncomfortable mood, it feels dark, I can’t wait for it to end most of the time. But I understand the madness behind the sexually driven dialogue, Kendrick’s thoughts and music make people uncomfortable, it makes you think. You want it to end but at the same time you’re so intrigued that you don’t, it forces you to have an opinion. You either hate it or love it; there is no gray area.
Kendrick frantically recants a vision he has about the end of mankind; he’s acting as the prophet of our day. You know how they say Tupac was that guy for his generation? That with his pen he was able to single handily set things in motion and speak things into existence, this is what Kendrick is now. The end of humanity seems to inch closer everyday, this song was written two years ago so it seems to be ahead of its time.
“No birds chirping or flying, no dogs barking, we all nervous and crying, moving in caution, in disbelief our belief’s the reason for all this.” He begins to vividly paint the picture of what was in his mind like only he can. “The tallest building plummet, cracking, and crumbling, the ground is shaking, swallowing young woman.” “Rapists and murderers hurdle alleys, valleys and high places turn into dust.”
It wasn’t until the third spin of this record that I put everything together and really understood what he was trying to say. I had to step back and digest everything; it really hit me all at once. I always felt Kendrick was here for a greater purpose than just music, like Pac, Kendrick is going to transcend every expectation we have for him and he is going to be bigger than music. He uses his voice, his platform, and his unlimited reach to save humanity as we know it. He is a deep, intellectual, and well-spoken man and this record is Kendrick at his finest. “I made To Pimp A Butterfly for you, told me to use my vocals to save man-kind for you.” This man is to here to educate and awaken the world to it’s many evils and he knows it, if he keeps making records like this, everybody else will know it, too.
One last note, Kendrick has mastered the ability to use his voice as an actual instrument. The way he stretches his words and squeals at the end of some notes make him so much easier to listen to. He makes words that don’t rhyme, rhyme. He uses his flow to compliment the beat unlike any other. Not only does this song have conscious flows on it, but also it’s sonically amazing. When you combine great production, raw passion, and incredible lyrical substance, you come out with an amazing song like this.