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Kendrick Lamar's 'untitled unmastered': How his work has drawn attention of music industry

Lamar's 'untitled unmastered' became available unexpectedly on March 3. The rapper has received widespread acclaim for his work, with figures from President Barack Obama to a producer for David Bowie praising his music.

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Kendrick Lamar performs a medley of songs at the 2015 Grammy Awards.

The latest artist to release a surprise record is rapper Kendrick Lamar, whose previous work has garnered praise from the music industry and even the president himself.

Mr. Lamar’s new album “untitled unmastered” became available on various streaming services beginning on March 3. The album consists of eight songs. The material includes songs which Lamar has recently performed during appearances on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” and at the Grammy Awards, among other venues. 

What are critics saying so far about "untitled"?

Early reaction seems positive, with Alexis Petridis of the Guardian writing of "untitled," "From dense lyrics, complex and often wilfully uncommercial music, to the influence of jazz, social comment rubbing against personal angst and references to 70s soul, 'Untitled Unmastered' is obviously intent on continuing down the path of 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' for better or for worse ... There are moments when the album is overwhelmed by claustrophobia and paranoia."

NME writer Larry Bartleet called the album "a shorter, more uneven release than 'To Pimp A Butterfly' – and some of it is even darker than its predecessor – but it gives fans a fascinating insight into Kendrick's creative process."

Expectations were high for Lamar’s next release following the incredibly positive critical reception to the rapper’s previous work, the 2015 album “To Pimp a Butterfly.” 

The work was brought up by Obama during a question-and-answer session on YouTube held earlier this year. 

“Kendrick … his lyrics, his last album, was outstanding,” the president said. “Best album, I think, of last year.”

Meanwhile, record producer Tony Visconti said David Bowie and the others working on Bowie’s acclaimed final album “Blackstar” were inspired by the rapper as well. “We were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar," Visconti said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "We wound up with nothing like that, but we loved the fact Kendrick was so open-minded and he didn't do a straight-up hip-hop record. He threw everything on there, and that's exactly what we wanted to do." 

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