All hail King James! According to hip-hop, Twitter and TDE producer Sounwave, Lebron James is the one responsible for this album release of all of K.Dot’s Untitled song performances leading up to and following the release of his heavily critically acclaimed project To Pimp A Butterfly. This project released seemingly on a whim features eight tracks of Kendrick Lamar’s funk-soul-jazz infusion of consciousness. It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to say that at least a few of the cuts on this project were actually slated to be on the major release, as the soundscape of the project is so cohesive with the theme of TPAB.
Staying true to the trend of throwing it back to the classic era of “real” music with that soulful black essence, the project opens with an intro reminiscent of Barry White with its sexual essence, as an unknown man with a heavy baritone voice puts on his best game to seduce the ladies. But don’t be misled by this bit of a profane intro, as Kendrick certainly has much to say. Untitled tracks one through eight are each rife with heavy social commentary and awareness rivaling that of the highly controversial TPAB. On the first track of Untitled, produced by Hit Boy and DJ Spinz, Kendrick Lamar describes a setting bringing to mind that of doomsday, as everything from fire and brimstone to the ignorance glorified in pop culture are illuminated by K.Dot’s rapid fire flow. On this track, he crowns himself as the savior, brought upon mankind to save us all from this madness as he spits:
“I made To Pimp a Butterfly for you
Told me to use my vocals to save mankind for you
Say I didn’t try for you, say I didn’t ride for you
I tithed for you, I pushed the club to the side for you”
On Untitled’s second track, K.Dot provides more vivid imagery of the scene that he sees daily in his community, done over production that’s an interesting mix of the currently popular trap sound and the jazz elements that Kendrick seems to be quite fond of. After the ominous opening bars Kendrick flexes a bit as he calls TDE the mafia of the west and says that he might tell Obama to be a bit more like Punch, the president of Top Dawg Entertainment. On this cut he puts more of a melodic delivery to use as well. The following track has Kendrick sending a message very similar to that of “For Free,” as he criticizes the negativity that blacks embrace by contrasting it against the wisdom of other cultures and speaks on how the industry exploits its artist by persuading them to sell their souls.
Track five features very smooth, jazzy production and sultry vocals courtesy of Anna Wise. On this song, Punch and Jay Rock along with Kendrick display the mentality of many of those shrouded in hopelessness in communities that have become hardened to crime and immorality. This track is one of the more deeply lyrical tracks on the album and would have definitely been a great fit on TPAB. Continuing along, number six features a soundscape similar in its melodic structure to “For Sale,” as he embraces his character traits for better or worse as well as those of his female counterpart. A Tribe Called Quest legend Ali Muhammad and Adrian Younge are to thank for the production on this track. In addition, Cee-Lo is on the vocals on this one and his voice is a nice fit.
Number seven has Kendrick flowing on a dark trap beat on an ego trip while possessing an insatiable appetite for material items, then transitions into Kendrick crooning his sexual desires over a guitar solo to his woman. Swizz Beatz son Egypt actually worked on the production on this track along with Cardo and Frank Dukes, which is a bit extraordinary as he was only 5 years old at the time that it was recorded.
This project was dropped out of the sky blue and is definitely a pleasant surprise as it’s another quality piece of art from King Kendrick. The instrumentation is exceptional and the lyricism and concepts are very thought provoking, which has come to be expected from the Compton MC. This release could have very well been packaged as a part two to TPAB, with its similar musical composition and subject matter. Now the question becomes where does Kendrick go from here. Will he continue to produce this same style of content? Will he be able to top the critical acclaim of TPAB? Only time will tell, and I’m sure the masses will be awaiting drowning in anticipation.
Standout Tracks: “Untitled 02”, “Untitled 05”, “Untitled 07”