Who thought this would happen?
A new Kendrick Lamar project, one year after the never-ending puzzle of To Pimp A Butterfly, not of new material but of things made in the run up to TPAB. Obviously, people automatically started talking about Kendrick vs Kanye West. Saying that Untitled was so much better than The Life Of Pablo. It isn’t. It is, however, far more compelling after the circus of TLOP, not to say it is not good. It is, in fact, a welcome and diverse addition to Kendrick’s already impressive discography. With some bangers (2 and 7 respectively), bossa nova (6), jazz (5 and 1), funk (3 and 8), and the acoustic number 4. Stories about the end of the world, about what men want, about TDE’s success, about the government misleading the youth, and aborting careers that never started.
The project starts with an atmospheric voice over on top of some jazz and then Kendrick comes on rapping quickly to describe a scene of the apocalypse, where he is questioned by God about what he has done. Kendrick argues with God and then says “Who love you like I love you?” Pleading with God to keep his life and making the most of it, “before the life switch.” Kendrick, in this song and others, references TPAB as if it has already happened or is in the midst of being created and it seems like he knew just how well received TPAB would be.
“Get God on the phone” is one of the my favorite lines Kendrick has delivered. The cries of "Pimp Pimp Hooray!" starts track two off, then comes along a spooky sax and some unsettling keys. The beat here is wonderful and Kendrick goes in once he switches from his slightly sing-songy delivery. I’m not a fan of the line “I’m the only way we can fornicate,” it just feels weird and does not fit the song to me. The second verse is great.
Divinity and religion have a big part of this project, specifically in the first verse on track 3. “I need a divine, intervention was his religion and I was surprised. Him believing in Buddha, me believing in God asked him what are you doing, he said ‘taking my time.'” The song also talks about what minorities and the white man want from him: peace, land, pussy, and “mine's” respectively.
“The government misleads the youth” is the first thing we hear on track 4, trying to tell these specific youth to find truth from another source. The weird thing here is the line, “head is the future, head is the answer” which is later talked about on 7. Most likely meaning that knowledge is the answer for rising above circumstances.
The instrumental intro to track five is wonderful, the bass line is fantastic, the horns and keys are great. The rapping on this song from all three people is really good, the story that Kendrick tells in his verse is vivid just like his vision of the apocalypse. Talking about killing someone that harmed him or someone near him, most likely a lawyer. Punch talks about how he can’t find any flaws in himself while looking at Jesus as his character model.
Track six is really weak compared to the rest of the album, not that it is bad. It has a nice groove and I enjoy the sound, but the execution seems lacking compared to other tracks. Cee-Lo sounds good here.
I love track seven. The beat is fantastic, Kendrick has a massive amount of energy and the switch up makes it even better. Did you know that Swizz Beatz’s five year old helped make this song? The first part does not say anything important it is just enjoyable. On the second part Kendrick is just nasty “You niggas fear me like y'all fear God. You sound frantic, I hear panic in your voice. Just know the mechanics of making your choice and writin' your bars. Before you poke out your chest, loosen your bra. Before you step out of line and dance with the star I could never end a career if it never start.” Then the third part starts and it is it did not need to be attached to the end of this. Not much is happening or moving the song forward. Attaching this to the end of one of the best songs on here just seems like a bad move. It does not add much to the song. It does add to the behind the scenes look into the making of the album, which would have been great as a video or in a documentary sense I just think it tacking it onto the end of this song is a bit odd.
I have already talked about this track at length at least what we had seen on Jimmy Fallon and I liked it better live. This studio version is less dynamic and does not capture the energy of the his performance.
This project is good, I certainly understand why this is TPAB outtakes and excerpts. It gives an interesting look into the making of To Pimp A Butterfly and just how many different styles they were trying. That said I love how TPAB turned out and I’m glad Kendrick shared this project.
by Addison Garry (@addisonagarry)