When the topic of Kendrick Lamar's admittedly incredible discography is raised, it's not uncommon to see 2016's Untitled Unmastered shunted to the side. In some ways, it's understandable given the quality of releases like Good Kid, maad City, To Pimp A Butterfly, and DAMN. Yet there's a certain charm about his mysterious and enigmatic album, made up of eight tracks seemingly leftover from the TPAB studio sessions. While it might be lacking in thematic cohesion, Untitled Unmastered features some brilliant moments of creativity from Kendrick, who puts on an absolute clinic on the spooky and melodic "Untitled 02."
Taking to an unsettling yet hypnotic instrumental conjured by the combined forces of Cardo, Yung Exclusive, and Thundercat, Kendrick lays down a haunting falsetto-heavy melody that nestles comfortably under your skin. "Get Top on the phone, tell the squad come home," he sings, his voice like a ghost still tethered to the mortal world. "We gon' ball again 'fore he call us home."
Not only did "Untitled 02" give us the iconic line "get Top on the phone," but it also showcased new ways in which Kendrick was honing his songwriting prowess. At the midway point, Kendrick segues from melody into bars with little to no effort, his swagger coming through in spades. "Cornrow Kenny, he was born with a vision, all morning with the mixed dashboards, triple digits," he spits, with a deliberate air of detachment. "Parallel park like an alien came visit." And that's only the opening lines -- his momentum only builds as the lengthy verse progresses.
Happy birthday to one of Kendrick's slept on efforts, Untitled Unmastered. Is it fair to call "Untitled 02" one of his best songs ever?
Dave just bought a new nine eleven
Almost thought I’d seen another plane crash
Q just bought a brand new McLaren
Rock-a-lack about to buy the projects
Moosa got his son dripping in gold
Ali 'bout to let his hair down on hoes
Me, I'm 'bout to let my hair down on hoes
Top billin', that’s a million a show
Might blow the whole no whammy on Soul
Might tell Obama be more like Punch
Sounwave caught a Grammy last year
Mack wop, bet he do what he want