By Joe DeRosa
In the time that passed from 2012 to 2015, Kendrick Lamar’s style had changed drastically. In his previous albums prior to To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick’s approach to his music was a familiar scene; hard-hitting delivery with deeply symbolic lyrics that were blanketed in memorable, up-tempo beats.
It was a formula for success, as Kendrick quickly became one of the industry’s most respected hip-hop artists. To Pimp a Butterfly was a drastic, but refreshing change to Kendrick’s style, as the consistent use of jazz melodies and tempos combined with Kendrick’s signature hard-hitting delivery of social undertones offered a sound that was unheard of.
Now, in 2016, more than a year after he dropped To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick surprised the world again by offering a deeper insight into his transformed style with the release of untitled unmastered. The album contains a series of 8 unreleased outtakes from To Pimp a Butterfly.
The tracks on this album follow suit to the album’s name, with each track being labeled untitled with each chronological number following it, as well as the year that the specific song was recorded.
Its clear from the introduction of the very first song that these songs could fit right in with To Pimp a Butterfly’s track list, as the familiar ominous atmosphere containing the signature jazz elements and unique arrangement of melodies that made To Pimp a Butterfly so memorable are the norm on this album. The tracks all flow well, with every track transitioning to another in a way that isn’t too abrupt or out of place.
What makes it more interesting, however, is that we also get to hear samples of Kendrick’s original sound show up in certain songs. A sound reminiscent of the general atmosphere of Section .80 comes to mind as Kendrick slugs a call and response style verse with Jay Rock, which is an elegantly vicious attack on the beat that the boys from TDE have been proficient in with past endeavors. Kendrick also shows the unique narrative style that he has on To Pimp a Butterfly and G.O.O.D Kid M.A.A.D City on the second track, where Kendrick exaggerates his voice and swaps flows at several points in the song.
Another element on the album is Kendrick’s use of motifs. One of the most common elements on To Pimp a Butterfly was Kendrick’s repetition of various themes within the tracks or in interludes, more specifically, the re-occurring poem that Kendrick recites at the end of certain songs. Considering that untitled unmastered is practically an extension of To Pimp a Butterfly, its not surprising that Kendrick had these re-occurring themes appear, especially Kendrick’s chanting of, “pimp pimp,” which is found at the beginning of the second and seventh tracks on the album
Untitled Unmastered offers further insight into the mind of Kendrick, offering ideas that, while missed the initial cut or just were plain not released, still offer a unique view at a man’s take on societal distress, and is a very suitable addition to Kendrick’s track record as an artist.
Genre: Electronic, Experimental, Techno, Dubstep
This album by the UK producer Jack Gibbons, better known by his stage name Ipman, came to my attention when The Glitch Mob cosigned the artist onto their label Glass Air. This is the first time that The Glitch Mob has signed an artist onto their label that has no direct ties to the group. In the UK, the album is signed to the Label Tectonic Recordings, created by UK producer DJ Pinch.
I became truly intrigued by this album when The Glitch Mob released the song “Y” on their Soundcloud a few weeks ago. The use drum samples and crunchy synthetic noises created an electronic symphony that could not be ignored.
The album itself is interesting. Some of the songs begged to be played at full volume, while others seem to lay flat for me. The first song “Regicide” sets the tone as an electronic punch in the face. With a slower and more aggressive drum and bass influenced beat which included a bass line that pulsates within the drum samples and synthesizer to gives an unsettled feel, this song is an absolute banger. Comfort is not found in the next track “Technicolor” as once again, Ipman creates an eerie textural sounds that lead into a more techno style beat.
“Gravity” is a heart racing song that’s repetitive kicks produce an unworldly feel. This piece progresses in a fashion that has heavy influenced by techo, creating a more club style sound. The next song “IPA” is probably my sleeper pick of the album. It starts with what seems to be a very “jazz-café” style sound with HEAVY bass, but progresses into a very strong electronic lo-fi sounding techno beat that is extremely catchy.
“Y” I found to be a forward thinking song with a great beat, synth and samples. The progression on this song is a refreshing contrast to “Last One In The In The” to be my favorite song on the album. This song is followed by “O” which seems to be used to bridge the gap in the progression of “YOU” as a full composition. It also is the only song that seems to create a more experimental ambient sound. This is followed by a wet sounding electronic noise that immediately disturbs and intrigues the ear. “U” is overall a more trance like vibe that then develops into a strong beat that pulsates for the rest if the song. Lastly, “Strong Ones” ends the album on a positive note with another memorable song that is very aggressive. The high notes throughout the song give the catchy beat a very strong kick that creates drives the song all the way to the end.
Overall, I found this album to be a good listen. Some drawbacks to it were the length of some of the songs, but most techno songs are typically longer in length. This LP has few misses for me, but it also has more than its fair share of winners. Ipman has a very unique sound, there is no doubt about that, and if you like a grungy electronic techno sounds with kick ass drum beats, give Depatterning by Ipman a listen.
Favorite songs: Regicide, IPA, Y, Strong Ones
Least favorite: O, Last One In The In The
I recently listened to the album Love Stuff, by artist Elle King. This twelve-track CD was an interesting one, to say the least. However, “interesting” isn’t the best way to describe my feelings about it. Overall, I feel that the album is just okay. There are good points and there are bad points, but not enough of one to outweigh the other.
Let’s being with the negatives. The biggest problem with this album for me is King’s voice. She is forcing it too much when she sings, which creates a raspy tone, much like a chain-smoker, that is cringe-worthy at times. When I first put this album on, and was greeted by the track “Where the Devil Don’t Go”, I almost turned the CD off because of how much I was put off by King’s voice. It honestly made me wince when she hit some of the notes. When she forces her voice, and she gets loud, her intonation is poor, which creates difficult to listen to, off-color notes. One of the songs that was supposed to be the “big feature”, if you will, was her single “Ex’s and Oh’s”. Because of her raspy voice, I was less than impressed by the track.
Another problem with King is that some of her tracks are the kind anyone can hear from a generic, angsty female artist. The best comparison I have is that King is like Christina Perri, just with a deeper, less full voice. Two tracks that stand out in this regard are “Song of Sorrow” and “Ain’t Gonna Drown”. It’s simply typical for an angst-style singer, with the whole sort of “the-world-is-against-me” lyricism. These two negatives are heavy hitters when looking at this album on the whole.
Now, I would be lying if I said I hated everything about this album. I want to start by saying that there are three songs that are standout diamonds-in-the-rough on this album. The first is “Kocaine Karolina”, which is a sadder song that talks about a woman who has lived a hard life because of her fire-brand spirit, but encouraging her to keep on going, and not waste away before she dies. This is a standout due to the gentle nature of the song, and the simple melody behind it. Because it’s a gentle piece, King doesn’t have the rasp in her voice like in other tracks from her essential shouting. The next track that stands out is “America’s Sweetheart”, which, despite the title, is about a girl who is a genuine country girl, and not a prim-and-proper doll that people want to see as the “American sweetheart”. This is one of the tracks that King’s raspy voice actually works for the song. The track itself has a sort of Mumford and Sons country-rock feel to it, where King actually does some impressive work. The last of the three is “Make You Smile”. This track to me is slightly reminiscent of Christina Perri’s song “Miles” in its themes, just as a reference point. Once again, its King’s gentler side that makes this track a good one.
The other thing that actually makes this album good is the music in every song. Every song has a different musical style associated with it. This can go from a 70’s rock style, like the song “Under the Influence”, to a hard rock feel with “Last Damn Night”, and may other styles in between. This actually impresses me a great deal, because many artists are not as diverse as King in that regard, and stick to one style of song. This album is twelve tracks with twelve different music styles.
So, overall, I can’t say I’m overly-impressed with the Love Stuff album, but I can’t say I totally hate this album. It has its things that make it something worth while, while there are other things that cause it to drag along the ground. I can’t say I would recommend this album personally, however, just because of how indecisive I am over it. To me, it just leaves a sort of “Oh…” feeling after listening to it, and frankly, that’s how I’m ending this review, because I have no real strong, conclusive way to sum up Elle King’s album.
Coming into the music scene with a number of groovy singles is Panic is Perfect. The San Francisco based band comes together with great riffs mixed with the indie pop sound that we all know and love. Although the genre “indie” is far from dependable, these guys put a sound to it, and it is awesome.
Echo, one of the group’s singles, builds in an electric sound while keeping the classic guitar and drums right there with it. They are not overpowered by the electronica that plagues many of today’s top 40s songs. In a few of their other songs they even add an acoustic sound.
Panic is Perfect is name I personally hope to see popping up a little more in the coming year. They do a great job of creating a progressive sound without ruining it with overpowering electronic elements. Their upcoming EP is set to be released in mid 2015, and it is one that I’m looking forward to listening to.