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Last Week’s Albums: Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne, Santigold & Yung Lean

Kendrick Lamar – untitled, unmastered.

A surprise release, untitled, unmastered. is a collection of eight Kendrick Lamar tracks that are as lyrically and musically captivating as anything he’s released. As the title explains, each track is untitled and unmastered, with the only information provided being a date of the original recording. It’s most likely these tracks were part of the To Pimp A Butterfly sessions during 2013 and 2014, with two (untitled 3 and untitled 8) having been performed on late night television.

Like TPAB, untitled, unmastered. incorporates elements of jazz, funk, soul and hip-hop, with Lamar’s social and political commentary present throughout. The book of Revelations and the apocalypse crop up on album opener untitled 1, the effects of greed are broken down on untitled 8, first performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, while the hazy and violent Jay Rock featuring untitled 5 is Lamar at his melodic best over the psychedelic jazz instrumentation.

Verdict: Any words I write don’t really do this album justice, as it deserves to be dissected and discussed at length, which I’m sure it will. Just know that untitled, unmastered. confirms that Kendrick Lamar is the most important figure in hip-hop, and quite possibly music today.

2 Chainz & Lil Wayne – ColleGrove

Last week we discussed why we believed ColleGrove would be awful, and while the teaming of 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne isn’t a complete failure, it’s not something you’ll be spinning on high rotation.

As a whole, ColleGrove feels much more like a 2 Chainz album devoted to praising Wayne, as evident by the somber opener Dedication. That’s not to say Wayne doesn’t hold his own at times, delivering one of his better verses in ages on Section and sounding revitalised on Bounce, but his contribution feels like that of a bit player, popping up here and there to lend support. While the chemistry between the two varies from great to terrible, it’s the 2 Chainz solo cuts like 100 Joints and Watch Out that really make ColleGrove worth a listen.

Verdict: Gap filler until 2 Chainz drops his third album.

Santigold – 99c

It feels like an eternity since Santigold released her sophomore album Master Of My Make-Believe. In that time the musical landscape has continued to evolve at a rapid pace and many of her contemporaries have struggled commercially (I’m looking at you M.I.A.), but with third release, 99c, Santigold has created a tropical pop paradise that shouldn’t be overlooked.

While the album arrived without much fanfare, 99c is pure unadulterated pop from the get go. Album opener Can’t Get Enough Of Myself is a song about self-absorption and promotion in the social media age, and much like the album’s cover, is bright and loud, with Santi as the vocal point. Rendezvous, Who I Thought You Were and the hand clap featuring Banshee are all throwbacks to Santi’s earlier work, which isn’t a bad thing at all. My favourite is the slinking Who Be Lovin’ Me, a slow trap influenced duet with warbler iLoveMakonnen.

Verdict: Santigold makes it three from three with 99c.

Yung Lean – Warlord

The fact Yung Lean has released a second album is a remarkable feat in itself. It could have been easy to write the Swedish youngster off as a joke, but over the past few years he and his Sad Boys crew have cultivated a rabid fan base that spans the globe off the back of Lean’s pop culture filled raps and strange delivery, and his crew’s murky and downtempo production style.

Warlord – a surprise release – is everything you’d expect from a Yung Lean record. Almost entirely produced by Sad Boys Yung Sherman and Yung Gud, the album is full of the usual spooky, hypnotic beats (Eye Contact, Immortal), but also finds Lean experimenting with trap (Shanty You Know What It Do, Highway Patrol) and heavy electronica (Hoover). There’s even a pop song (AF1s), or at least as close to pop as you’ll get from Lean.

The guest spots are kept to a minimum, with Lil Flash (on album highlight Fantasy), Ecco2k (AF1s) and Lean’s good friend Bladee (appearing on the touring tale Highway and drug anthem Hocus Pocus) contributing noteworthy verses, with Lean’s lyrical content focused firmly on early 00s nostalgia and drug culture.

Verdict: He’s not for everyone, but Warlord is another excellent release from Yung Lean.

Image: Consequence of Sound