When the clocks rang in 2016 the #ExpectTheUnexpected should have been trending, its been a real roller coaster music wise and Kendrick Lamar has taken things to the next level with his unexpected new album. Putting himself into a seriously elite league of super artists like Beyoncé, Madonna, Jay Z, Kanye West etc who can drop an album, with zero promo, publicity and have the whole world talking about it, the voice of an entire generation Kendrick Lamar really is a super, superstar now.
A brand new album from Kendrick Lamar was always going to meet with heavy criticism, after the instant classic “To Pimp A Butter Fly” anything else was always going to fall short, or will it? Eight tracks in length and seriously minimal in every way with next to no art work and no track names just a serious of random dates, which could have been when the tracks were recorded, when Kendrick had the inspiration for the lyrics, or just some random dates he put on the tracks to make us all think they held some possible cryptic clue. Could this new album be a multi layered soundscape giving us a true insight into a political, conscious, lyrical genius. An album which only gets richer and more enticing with every listen as the tracks unfold and the lyrics unravel themselves showing Kendrick Lamar as a supreme genius, or is it really just an album of off cuts that didn’t make the “To Pimp A Butterfly” album.
Most reviews to date have focused on the ‘first listen’ angle, I have avoided that as I have listened to the whole album several times now and its of course playing as I type this review, i managed to squeeze in a record 6 of the 8 tracks on my show on Saturday morning, the tracks meeting with a mixed reaction from the listeners. Featuring collaboration support from Cee Lo Green, Thundercat and Anna Wise and interestingly track 8 was allegedly co produced by Egypt, the 5-year old son of Swizz Beats and Alicia Keys. Now so far I am really very mixed on an overall opinion on the album, there are several stand out tracks that do make for great listening, though I am still on the fence as a whole. This is truly an album that needs to be listened to time and time again so we can appreciate the genius element to it, or we will get bored and move on to someone else’s new project, new music is coming from every angle at present so do we have time to only be listening to one album waiting for it to grow on us? Or alternatively you may fall head over heels in love with this album and this could be a timeless classic in the making, unlikely but only time will tell.