Why Is Every Kendrick Lamar 'untitled unmastered.' Song Called "untitled"? There's Likely Special Meaning Here
You may have noticed at this point that Kendrick Lamar debuted untitled unmastered. Thursday night. Dropped just before midnight, the eight-track collective is a peculiar breed — not quite album and much more of a "project." And you can tell this mainly based on the titles, which are all called "untitled," followed by a number — their track number — and a date. Which is a curious creative choice that probably has you wondering, well, why every song on Lamar's album called "untitled."
Well, just like asking "which came first, the chicken or the egg," the crux of this issues lies in, "which came first, the album title or the song title." The thing is, there's no definitive answer, but I'm willing to bet that the songs were created first before being rounded up for this raw Spotify debut. If we're operating under the assumption that the dates which follow each "untitled" indicate when Lamar worked on or came up with the concepts for the songs (though, it's worth noting, some significant events took place on those dates), the tracks fall mainly between 2013 and 2014, meaning they would pre-date or were put together in tangent with Lamar's last album, 2015's To Pimp A Butterfly.
What makes me think that? Earlier in the year, Lamar talked to Grammy.com about how "close to 10" songs from To Pimp A Butterfly didn't make the final cut. "I got a chamber of material from the album that I was in love [with] where sample clearances or something as simple as a deadline kept it off the album," he said. So it's my suspicion that not only are these the aforementioned songs that Lamar loved but for whatever reason couldn't publish, or they just happened to be songs made during that timeframe that he wanted to put out without being bothered to think up impromptu names.
Think of untitled unmastered. as an artist's sketchbook versus a framed portfolio piece. The assumption is, the songs essentially could be untitled to signify that they're not perfectly polished studio pieces. And TBH, it's just a cool move: it's like casually acknowledging your musical prowess while still saying, "This is just something I did in my free time, I didn't even think to title them."
So even though there's no definite answer, I don't think you need need to be a super sleuth to figure it out. The untitled songs on untitled unmastered. remain untitled because, well, they're slightly unmastered tracks. But even unrefined as they may be, you definitely want to check out Lamar's project ASAP!