What’s up world and welcome to another week of Now Listening.

You know him, you love him, you sing all the words to m.A.A.d city and Alright, but how do you feel about Kendrick Lamar’s most recent release, untitled unmastered.? Kendrick Lamar is an American rapper out of Compton, California, who started releasing music in 2010. It wasn’t until 2012 with his release good kid, m.A.A.d city, that Kendrick started to gain recognition on a fully national level. At this point in time, Kendrick doesn’t need a last name, he’s won seven Grammy’s and pretty much everyone knows who he is; a frontrunner of the current rap game. But does untitled, unmastered. live up to the expectations of Kendrick’s previous success?

Released on March 4, 2016, untitled unmastered. is a compilation album of unfinished demos from recordings for Lamar’s third album, To Pimp a Butterfly. Containing eight untitled tracks, each one numbered and dated from when the demo was recorded, this raw approach is much different than the other albums released by Kendrick. It proposes a more intimate and personal insight to the process and trials of music that Lamar creates.

Debuting at no.1 of Billboard’s Top 200 in its first week, this album has definitely gained a lot of popularity at a lightning speed. In comparison to Kendrick’s previous releases, this is a small, quiet statement. With not much publicity or talk until the night it was released, it seems as though Kendrick doesn’t feel like he has to prove anything, I mean he’s already at the top of the game.

Differing from his previous projects, one of the most notable effects from these demos is Kendrick Lamar’s ability to manipulate and alter his voice. His tics and vocal morphs is what gives this album a more personal aspect, you can feel what Kendrick is rapping about. This 35 minute album is jam packed with moods, riffs, and all sorts of emotions that the listener can pick up on. In addition, the tracks seem to overlap, making it difficult to tell when one ends and another begins.This aspect helps Lamar’s case of composing these tracks into one cohesive album as a whole. There’s a lot of talking, fillers, and sound checks within these demos that make it very raw and real.

For me, untitled 02 is an initial standout. Lamar addresses and contemplates mortality, pushing rap to go deeper and further than money, booze, and women. Kendrick Lamar continually edges the rap game further and further, proving that he knows no boundaries. If you ask me, untitled unmastered. is a success. The lack of promotion, song titles, even album artwork says more about where Kendrick’s head is at better than any proclamation he could have made. He is solely focused on the music, and forces you to deal with nothing but it in this album. (Someone tell him to teach Kanye a thing or two.)

Listen to a live track from untitled unmastered. here, or find it on Spotify.  ❃