Whatever happened to experimenting? From the time we are children to our early years as adults, we are constantly experimenting to figure out how life works and where our place in it is.
The sciences seem to have taken hold of this idea and kept it for themselves, but the reality is that experimentation belongs in the arts just as much, if not more so.
And I’m going to use this week’s Melodic Monday entry to prove it!
Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered
released March 4, 2016
Kendrick Lamar (Kendrick Lamar Duckworth) is an American rapper from Compton, California. He has been rapping since he was a teenager, and started with the name K-Dot, which allowed him to release a mixtape that eventually got him signed with indie label TDE.
His first studio album came out in 2010, and then he got signed to Aftermath/Interscope in 2012 which saw the release of good kid, m.A.A.d. city.
He currently has 7 Grammies and a bunch of other awards to top it off. All thanks to last years release To Pimp a Butterfly, which came out almost exactly a year ago (I’m off by a couple of days, cut me some slack, please and thank you).
As a newbie myself to the freshness and layering of sound that is K-Dot, I’ve learned rather quickly that it is almost inevitable that I will under-appreciate his efforts, his perspective and his aspirations. But that won’t stop me from listening to untitled unmastered.
It’s essentially a prelude to To Pimp A Butterfly. Kendrick Lamar is telling us with the album title that he is borderless, capable of achieving anything, and that he has no masters. But he himself is humbled by aspects of being black which he doesn’t understand.
That’s why he pulls from so many different genres and ideas, sampling them all to better appreciate and incorporate them into himself.
It’s fucking scary. As a white man with little to no idea of what he must be experiencing as he navigates these waters, I can only imagine how much energy K-Dot has to drum up to approach these album.
All of the tracks reference previous outings, from performances on Jimmy Fallon (untitled 8) and The Colbert Report (untitled 3), to a three part jam session which takes places over a three period (untitled 7). It’s fun and intellectual hip-hop like this that always has a place in my collection.
Lamar has told twitter followers that this is a bunch of demos, and you get that sense. But you almost feel guilty listening to it, because it’s so much damn fun. This is an amazing mixture of hip-hop, funk, soul, jazz, spoken award, and dare I say it, subversive music.
I read somewhere recently that jazz is on the way out and that while it originated as Black music, it’s meant for everyone. I really hope that it isn’t and I have a suspicion that while jazz may not appear to be popular right now, it’s always been a musical genre that inspired deviation, experimentation and energy – If Kendrick Lamar, an artist who is helping to redefine hip-hop, uses jazz in his recording sessions, and to inspire his studio releases, I think we need to take note and learn from it. Just a theory.
In the scientific method, experiments are done with metrics and models to find out if a hypothesis is true or not. Kendrick Lamar, knowingly or not, is constantly testing out the theory that jazz is dead, and every time he does, he proves that that is not the case. In fact, people love it all the more. As a personal advocate for theories, I believe that untitled unmastered represents empirical evidence for the value of jazz.
You need to listen to this album. I’m not going to give it a 10/10 though, because it’s not a studio release. It’s something different, but manages to still achieve a good grade regardless.
What do you think? Is my body of evidence corrupt? See you tomorrow for some theories on economics.