Beyonce is not the only artist who can successfully release a surprise album and have everyone's attention. Fresh off his five Grammy wins last month, rap's boldest warrior, Kendrick Lamar, sent the internet ablaze last night as he released a surprise album, Untitled Unmastered, exclusively on Spotify and iTunes.
The body of work is expected to be released on other music streaming services today and contains eight songs all named "untitled" (followed by the date the song was made.)
While the Compton native kept details under wraps about this newest project, many hints were tossed in the ever-changing stratosphere of Twitter and Instagram. During the Superbowl, rapper and producer Swizz Beatz uploaded a video on Instagram of his 5-year-old son, Egypt and Kendrick both enjoying the game. After a light embrace from Jay-Z, Egypt was asked by his dad, "What you doing, working on a beat for Kendrick?"
Then immediately following Kendrick's emotionally charged Grammy medley of "The Blacker the Berry" and "Alright", four time NBA MVP LeBron James tweeted to his 28.5 followers, "Yo @dangerookipawaa after that Kendrick Lamar Grammy performance, you have to release those untitled tracks asap!!! What's up? Talk to me."
@Dangerookipawaa- also known as Anthony Tiffith, president of Kendrick's label Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) responded with, "The fans been killing me. Y'all just backed me in a corner..Give me a few days 2 think."
Last night before midnight he uploaded links to the album and told all of Kendrick's fans to thank him. They gladly proceeded.
During his latest promotional appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Kendrick teased two different tracks called, "Untitled" and in an interview with 2 Dope Boyz the rapper explained the process of how some tracks didn't make it on his previous LP To Pimp A Butterfly.
"You see all these performances on these late-night shows. I got a chamber of material from the album that I was in love where sample clearances or something as simple as a deadline kept it off the album." He furthered, "But I think probably close to 10 songs that I'm in love with that I'll still play and still perform that didn't make the cut."
The clues were there all along.
Production wise, "Untitled, Unmastered" sticks to the formula with retro-futuristic, funkadelic-jazz inspired tracks. In his true storytelling fashion, Kendrick laces each song with identifiable characters that build a narrative so every person enduring their own struggles can relate.
On "untitled 03 05.28.2013.", he creates a unique metaphor between him and the music industry,
A Piece of Mines/ That's what the White Man wanted when I rhyme
Telling me that he just selling me for $10.99 / I go platinum from rapping I do the company fine
What if I compromise? / He said it don't even matter
Making a million or more, you living better than average
You choosing your core following, gaining it all
Put a price on my talent, hit the bank and withdraw
So far, the most talked about track is an up-tempo that was produced by Swizz's and Alicia Key's son, Egypt. Alicia took to Instagram to express her excitement for her son's musical ear, "He got up that morning humming a melody…. We went to the piano to find it…he picked it out by ear….he loves to play….I know that feeling. Congratulations Egypt for practicing and learning and trying to the music in your heart."
The full track list of Untitled Unmastered is as follows:
1. "untitled 01 08.19.2014."
2. "untitled 02 06.23.2014."
3. "untitled 03 05.28.2013."
4. "untitled 04 08.14.2014."
5. "untitled 05 09.21.2014."
6. "untitled 06 06.30.2014."
7. "untitled 07 2014-2016"
8. "untitled 08 09.06.2014."