Kendrick Lamar. Perhaps the most dominating, awe-inspiring rapper of this generation. Cultural issues are prodded and poked by the Compton rapper who has learnt from mentor Dr Dre and moved on to become a global superstar. His three previous projects have all broken barriers and challenged perception so when this was initially released completely out of the blue, we were all sprung into action. However, we have found out that this release is a B-sides album that we assume have been left behind from recent album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ but Kendrick didn’t want to abolish them altogether. For this reason alone you cannot expect different directions for Kendrick to go into as he is still releasing music from his current phase. All this album will achieve is tiding the fans’ appetite until seeing the brand new side K-Dot will lean towards.
untitled 01 08.19.2014.- 7/10
Very sensual start to the track with what appears to be a Barry White impersonator reciting the acts during sex. Completely pointless in my eyes and a pain to listen to, almost cringeworthy. The fade into Kendrick’s rapid paced vocal saves the song as he brings up issues from all over the world, terrorism, wars, racism and even paedophilia. Seems very preachy as he mentions that someone told him “to use my vocals to save mankind” and that’s what he tries here by challenging current life issues. As always a fantastic performance vocally by Kendrick with magnificent flow but I just think he was a bit too wild, could have honed in on just the one topic and expanded rather than be this god like figure.
untitled 02 06.23.2014.- 9/10
Smooth transition into this track. The contorted style to horns and his own vocal is uncannily similar to ‘u’ from his To Pimp A Butterfly album and was perhaps an alternative track to it. “Get God on the phone” showing his power in the current industry and how he has reached a supreme level, causing him to be on friendly terms and a similar pedestal to God himself. Cuts out from the high pitched almost painful vocal as he provides a Good Kid, M.A.A.D City style rap with a fast paced mono-tonal flow. Mentions Macklemore’s Grammy win saying he can “do what he want” claiming to have moved on from any beef those two initially had. Seems a bit irrelevant in the grand scheme of things and I think he is just trying to show himself off as more successful than Macklemore. Despite this, it’s like two songs mixed into one with sounds from both albums. I love this song and the variation it provides.
untitled 03 05.28.2013.- 7/10
Upbeat and groovy style to the beat on this track. Backing vocal of female voice asking Kendrick questions about different races and what they say about a certain issue. Brings up the money driven white man that is destroying music, suggesting people continue to try and buy him out and make him sell his soul. Sends a great musical message and should inspire people to do music for the right reasons. Preaches in all the right areas but just seems to lack cutting edge. Not surprised it didn’t make the final cut.
untitled 04 08.14.2014.- 6/10
Again questions certain cultures along with the way the government rule the country. As the backing vocal sings you can hear Kendrick whispering telling her what to mention, almost to try and stay out of the limelight and get someone else to preach his issues. Very odd and mysterious track with a wide assortment of noise throughout. Seems more of a filler track and a message rather than a song but flows into next track well. A bit pointless and practically nothing to it. Not enjoyable but passable because it sends a message within the lyrics.
untitled 05 09.21.2014.- 7/10
A smooth jazz style placed on a typical Kendrick beat is formed to follow on from the previous song. Typical TPAB saxophone mixed in with a soulful female vocal and jazz/hip-hop beat. Takes a while before we hear Kendrick and he explodes into the track and doesn’t hold back on the aggression. Talks about his change in style as he “used to go to church” but due to his teenage years, as demonstrated in GKMC, violence has taken over. One hard verse before the feature provides his say, not a lot to it. Kendrick then returns for the end of the song and flows with three other rappers who go back and forth with him until the end of the track. Does seem a bit lethargic as a whole towards the end and let’s the track down in my opinion because it is good until then.
untitled 06 06.30.2014.- 7.5/10
Another smooth jazz style that is similar to some tracks on GKMC. Cee-Lo Green compliments this smooth and crisp instrumental perfectly and provides a smattering of soul. Kendrick’s second verse shows off his mother’s influence on him and how she would talk to him positively to help him get to where he is now. He appears very thankful for this and many neutrals will appreciate Kendrick never neglecting his family and paying homage to them in this way. A side to Kendrick we don’t usually see and I like the way it works as it shows he is more open with his audience nowadays.
untitled 07 2014 – 2016- 8/10
“Pimp Pimp, Hooray” repeated at the start, almost to show everyone’s reaction to his shock album release. “Love won’t get you high like this, Fame won’t get you high like this” followed by “levitate” being repeated in a chorus style which we don’t really see from this album naturally. Strong beat that suits the vocal which sends messages of drug use and it’s positives rather then negatives. Halfway through a complete change of scenery as a natural and simple beat is created and Kendrick tells his story once again. Sounds like poetry with every single thing he says in his music and it’s no different here. Ad Lib at the end shows style of Kendrick while he’s in the studio and what goes through his mind while recording. Can create rhythm from absolutely nothing. Nice change to hear ad lib from him but at the same time appears to drag a bit unnecessarily. First part of this song is golden, second part is good and the ad lib is close to being frustrating.
untitled 08 09.06.2014.- 8.5/10
Masterful production and a beat that will be sure to get stuck in your head. Can you believe a 5 year old helped produce this song? Classic Kendrick and I’m surprised he could find a place on any alum for this song. Seems like a b-side of ‘i’ but missed the final cut. Nicely added chorus which is a welcome break between verses as Kendrick’s pace is as quick as ever. One of the best songs on the album and a refreshing, upbeat end to the album as a whole.
It is a pleasure to hear any music from Kendrick Lamar of course it is and these songs are far from a disaster, but you can’t help but feel a bit stuck in a loop with this album. We’ve all heard To Pimp A Butterfly and we don’t want to hear more and more of the same songs. The only reason I’m talking down on this album is because by Kendrick’s exceedingly high standards, this isn’t ideal. There are good songs but no new sound, though I suppose you can blame that on it being a b-side album. It’ll do for now but Kendrick will have to mix it up like he has always done to achieve even more greatness down the line; although I’m sure he will so I’m still a huge fan.