Lamar’s surprise album unveils ingenuity

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Review by Nick Erickson, Staff writer

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

After coming out of the 58th Grammy’s with five awards, including “Best Rap Album” for his 2015 release “To Pimp A Butterfly,” Kendrick Lamar  is on top of the world. Last week, to everyone’s surprise, he released a new album, “Untitled Unmastered.”

This album is arguably his rawest release to date, hence the title, as it is sparsely produced and contains Lamar’s vocals in the most natural state. In just eight tracks, Lamar proves himself worthy of the hype he achieves, with his gifted lyricism shining bright as the sun.

Starting off the record is “Untitled 01 | 08.19.2014,”  a concoction of ambient noises, a faint snare drum roll, and some uncomfortable dialogue and laughter, that blends into the mix. Soon after, Lamar appears and paints an image of Judgment Day in the listener’s head. A steady drumbeat and subtle orchestral string back Lamar’s flowing verses, which speak of him being in front of God and speaking to Him.

“I fell to my knees, pulled out my resume that dated back to June 17th, 1987. My paperwork was like a receipt. I was valedictorian, I was fearful of judgment but confident I had glory in all my past endeavors,” Lamar says.

Lamar’s rich lyricism and word flow, accompanied by tasteful background musicianship, makes this track one to note. He tackles religion in ways most people don’t, actually putting himself in the position of being faced with judgment from a higher power and gives listeners an interesting perspective that is as intriguing as it is catchy. “Who love you like I love you?” Lamar says.

The album’s third track, “Untitled 03 | 05.28.2013,” launches with a simple but interesting synthesizer loop with lots of reverb and bass added into the mix.

Lamar raps in a unique manner, as if he were telling a story to the listener, with featured singer Anna Wise contributing almost a call-and-response style vocal hook.

Lamar raps of how various minorities have advised him on how to better his life, giving him a “piece” of themselves. However, he notes the majority, “white man,” has taken away from him and devalued him as an artist. “What did the Asian say?” Wise says, to which Lamar follows with, “A peace of mind, that’s what the Asian said, I need a divine.” Topped off with a saxophone interlude, this track is deeply layered and constructed, and the lyricism really makes one pay attention to every detail to understand the emotion Lamar conveys.

The first minute of “Untitled 05 | 09.21.2014” starts off unexpectedly: A smooth bass line, distant drumbeat, mellow piano and even a touch of saxophone. This jazzy influence carries throughout the track as Wise makes a return, singing a softspoken hook, giving Lamar an entrance to his verses, which mention social inequality in the world today. This track is evidence of the influence Lamar draws from other musical genres and incorporates into his albums to add extra flare and emotion.

Ending the album is “Untitled 08 | 09.06.2014.” A pulsating beat drives Lamar’s verses as he raps about how black Americans face great financial difficulties. This track flows smoothly, never letting up on tempo, and it contains the emotional grittiness one expects from a Lamar track. It’s a solid ending to a sweet and short album. “In today’s day and age we practice the self pity of taking the easy way out,” Lamar says.

Lamar is undoubtedly one of the strongest lyricists in the music scene, he reinforces the point with “Untitled Unmastered.” His writing ability, coupled with the deep musicality found on his tracks, sets him apart from the crowd. For previous fans of Lamar, prepare to be enthralled. For newcomers to his music, prepare for ingenuity.

that of the teenage-daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) who appears to be an innocent girl trapped in circumstances outside her control. She becomes the scapegoat for her religious family to blame all of the transpiring events going on around them.

As far as horror films go, “The Witch” is subpar at best. The flick has unnerving background music and menacingly, disconsolate scenery that help set the mood, but otherwise the rest is just a letdown.

Critics from sources such as, “Rolling Stone” and the “Washington Post” have given the film positive reviews for being “terrorizing” and “unique.” Nevertheless, just because this so-called “horror” picture is different from the other genre-related films that have been released lately, doesn’t make this particular movie exceptional, especially when compared to classic films, like “Halloween” or “The Shining.”

If the viewer wants to watch a film that has few disturbing moments and some respectable acting performances, then this is a good film to check out. However, if the viewer is expecting to be frightened or looking forward to seeing something truly spell-binding, regrettably the audience is in for a major disappo