Earlier this week, TDE's CEO Top Dawg announced that one of the label's artists would be dropping a project sometime this week as a surprise. Many suspected it would be from SZA or Isaiah Rashad, as Top Dawg recently noted that their albums were nearing completion. Earlier tonight however, a project called untitled unmastered. popped up on Spotify under Kendrick Lamar's name. As it turned out, this was the surprise project that he was referring to, and Kendrick unleashed it to the delight of his fans.
untitled unmastered. spans eight tracks total. Listeners will recognize "untitled 08 l 09.06.2014." as the song Kendrick performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon back in January. At that time, it was known as "Untitled 2" or "Blue Faces." His performance on The Colbert Report, which was the original "Untitled" song, also made it onto the project as "untitled 03 l 05.28.2013."
Continuing in Kendrick's long tradition of rich, layered instrumentals, each track is backed by twinkling pianos and jazzy brass. The lyrics also build on common themes in his music, including his relationship with God and his internal conflict about the violence and drug use he sees in his community. "Why you want to see a good man with a broken heart?/Once upon a time I used to go to church and talk to God/Now I'm thinking to myself hollow tips is all I got/Now I'm drinking by myself at the intersection parked," he emotes on "untitled 05 l 09.21.2014."
Despite his intense focus, the West Coast rapper finds space for some guest artists. Fellow TDE rapper Jay Rock makes an appearance on "untitled 05 l 09.21.2014." and CeeLo Green lends his voice on "untitled 06 l 06.30.2014." He even recruits a little boy to sing the "Compton is where I'm from" line on "untitled 07 l 2014 - 2016." The two-part song shifts from a woozy, haunting rap-slur to Kendrick crooning solo over a singular guitar.
Eventually the project closes out with the upbeat "untitled 08 l 09.06.2014.," which features the return of the To Pimp a Butterfly intro voice taking everyone to task on their apathy. "In today's day and age we practice the self-pity of taking the easy way out," it chides. "You wait on them, him and her/But when a blessing takes too long, that's when you go wrong/You selfish motherfucker."
You can buy the project on iTunes here or stream it below via Spotify.
Following the release, Kendrick revealed all eight tracks are demos that didn't make To Pimp a Butterfly.
Demos from To Pimp A Butterfly. In Raw Form. Unfinished. Untitled. Unmastered. https://t.co/YlAszcK4e4— Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) March 4, 2016