Kendrick’s “Untitled Unmastered”: Unpolished Gems

Clearly not taking a cue from label head Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar has wasted no time following-up on last year’s Grammy-nominated To Pimp a Butterfly. A surprise album—Untitled Unmastered—made its debut on Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal late yesterday evening.

More like what used to be referred to as an “EP” release, the 8-track Untitled Unmastered features bonus tracks from sessions around the time TPAB was recorded. The tracks are labeled with, presumably, the dates they were originally recorded. As Pitchfork notes, two of the songs have been performed live by Kendrick in the past—tracks #3 and #8 appeared on The Colbert Report and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, respectively.

As the album’s title indicates, Untitled Unmastered is an incredibly raw, unpolished look into the creative process that flows through arguably one of the best rappers alive. Calling this release “new” material would be a stretch, in that, as mentioned, some of this has been heard—while the rest falls right in line with the other tracks we had on repeat when To Pimp a Butterfly was released (not that this is a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination).

However, this surprise was refreshing as hell, to say the least. No build-up or delays; no exclusivity to a single streaming service (ahem). In the case of Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered, the digitalization of music made it possible for otherwise scrapped material to be released—and, honestly, who the hell can be mad at that?