Kendrick Lamar continues to evolve with new untitled track

The Compton rapper premiered a jazz-tinged new track on the Colbert Report that points in an exciting direction both political and self-aware

In a year when hardly any of the biggest rappers have released an album, guest verses and singles have been one of the ways the likes of Drake, Kanye and Jay Z have remained part of the conversation. Kendrick Lamar has opted for the odd guest appearance – such as his appearance on Flying Lotus’s album You’re Dead! – and a couple of singles. i came out in mid-October and was divisive, which isn’t surprising considering it was Lamar’s first official release since his notorious verse on Big Sean’s track Control that took aim at the whole of the rap industry. Some hated the Nile Rodgers guitar licks and solos, which created a song that suggested he’s got his eyes on the charts as well as the streets.

On The Colbert Report last night, Lamar premiered Untitled after a fun back and forth with the satirist, who moves to the Late Show at the end of this week. The track itself, which was produced by French beatmaker Astronote, featured Thundercat, the bassist, who had a brilliant 2013 album and also played for Flying Lotus. There’s sax provided by fellow LA producer Terrace Martin and Bilal, and the whole performance is jazz-tinged, sounding as if Lamar’s been listening to a lot of Robert Glasper lately.

Lyrically, he’s self aware, pointing out people have told him he’s losing his “core following” with his new direction, and he also alludes to the recent police shootings with a chorus of “Tell ’em we don’t die, we multiply”. Hot 97′s Peter Rosenberg, who’s heard the whole album, says the lyrics follow similar lines throughout: “He’s talking about black righteousness. He’s talking about Africa. There’s social commentary. There’s all kinds of deep thoughts.”

After Control and good kid, m.A.A.d city fans might have wanted Lamar to come out with more war reports, pointing out the shortcomings of his peers. But this is a more mature artist, who doesn’t care to retread old ground and is showing his superiority, not by saying how much better he is than his contemporaries, but by doing something they could never pull off.


Lanre Bakare

The GuardianTramp

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