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‘untitled unmastered’ is a story worth telling, fueled by jazz

Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service – Kendrick Lamar performs at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

‘untitled unmastered’ by Kendrick Lamar
9 out of 10

By Luis Torres ’16

Seven-time Grammy winner Kendrick Lamar unexpectedly released his fourth studio album “untitled unmasteredon the night of March 3.

Before the album dropped, Lamar teased new music with performances at “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and The 58th Annual Grammy’s.

The album holds a significant twist to it.

With songs that only have dates to them, along with the lack of a “title” for an album, Lamar illustrates his separation from being an orthodox rapper.

“untitled unmastered” dives into the personal trials and tribulations that Lamar has faced as an up and coming rapper dating as far back as May 28, 2013, according to “untitled 03 | 05.28.2013.”

The album parallels Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno” in many ways. The album, like the book, portrays a journey through circles of hell.

The album speaks on Lamar’s journey through his circles of hell in a music industry filled with various sins such as lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud and treachery.

“untitled unmastered” contains eight songs that could represent eight of the nine circles of hell Lamar has faced. In the book, there are nine circles that signify the journey from a relationship with God to a living hell that ends with Satan in the ninth and final circle.

Lamar’s journey in the album is his journey from Satan and these sins to becoming a man of God with his music.

Lamar’s commitment to reveal himself through his music is a great change of pace for the genre, but most importantly for the listeners. You have to pay attention to each word and feel each beat.

His attention to detail and vivid storytelling, especially in this album, is my favorite part of the progression of his music and style.

“untitled 01| 08.19.2014” is the first song and is laced with rhetoric of The Book of Revelations in the Bible.  

“Another trumpet has sounded off and everyone heard it. (It’s happening) no more running from world wars. (It’s happening) no more discriminating the poor,” Lamar raps.

Lamar’s usage of a variety of jazz instruments and upbeat lyrics at the forefront of the album excited me to listen to the rest of it.

The final song on the album, “untitled 08 | 09.06.2014.”, marks the one month anniversary of the death of Michael Brown but has a more upbeat vibe to it that signifies hope.

The song lyrically raps about the cultural shift of making money easily through fame and selling drugs.

“We all came on the boat looking for hope. Now all you can say is that you’re looking for dope,” Lamar raps.

The concept of shame about this “new money” is encompassed through the blue faces of shame Lamar raps about.

“I hit the bank today and them to color me bad. Blue faces. Get that new money, and it’s breaking me down honey,” Lamar raps.

Each song has its own story making it another successful Lamar album. The vulnerability, variety of beats and thoughtfulness Lamar raps with makes this one of the best rap albums in the last decade.