The album feels raw and rough around the edges, but is full of energy. “untitled 01” begins with an unsettling yet intriguing spoken word intro that is deeply sexual, then launches into the chaos that Lamar experiences around him: the spiritual turmoil, the inequality, and the materialistic and capitalistic society that is America. His words are delivered against deep, neo-jazz and funk basslines, extending the jazzy effect created on To Pimp a Butterfly, with mainstream hip-hop production taking a backseat.
There’s a dark, self-reflective, almost brooding tone created at the beginning of the album, which brings forth Lamar’s criticisms of mainstream society and the government, with lines such as “They say the government mislead the youth, youth, youth, and welfare don’t mean well for you, you, you …” sung by Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) label-mate SZA on “untitled 04”. The album gives the listener a glimpse into Lamar’s creative process and the type of music created and experimented with behind the scenes, while simultaneously celebrating the critical and commercial success of To Pimp a Butterfly.
The final track on the album, “untitled 08”, makes mention of Cape Town, with Lamar saying in an interview with MTV that his visit to South Africa in 2014 was a turning point for him, and that he wrote a lot of records “out there”.
There’s an array of guest-stars on the album, including TDE label-mate Jay Rock, familiar collaborator Anna Wise, who appeared on Lamar’s debut album good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp a Butterfly, as well as Cee-Lo Green contributing his smooth neo-soul vocals on track 6.
Numerous producers worked on the album, most notably Swizz Beats and Hit-Boy, while the second half of “untitled 07” was apparently produced by Swizz Beats’s five-year-old son Egypt Dean. The untitled unmastered album pushes the listener to reflect on the situation around them and engage with their surroundings. It not only gives context to To Pimp a Butterfly, but shines on its own, and is well worth a listen.