Get God On The Phone!
untitled unmastered. and Collegrove were released nearly simultaneously last Friday as the clock struck something. While on the surface there appears to be little in common between the two —one being the fiercely conscious unfinished loosies cut from a young messiah’s cultural and political grandstand, the other being a joint album from two seasoned vets known largely for their endless synonyms for cunnilingus— upon further inspection it turns out…that that’s true. There really isn’t anything linking the two beyond their drop date…No matter, both are blockbuster releases congruently thrown into the the broadening gap between the perceived “woke”; those who use it as a tool to inform their perception of the pblic and public perception, who are politically active, man, and the other guys just looking to get their rat wet, highlighting ,in gold sharpie, how malleable to all depths of ubiquity the genre has become in 2016. As such, they will forever be entangled in our minds. My mind. Whatever. Considering the casual release of each juxtaposed against one another, these are my fittingly unabridged and non-linear thoughts on both, together. Enjoy.
Very first thing first: 2 Chainz makes mention of Lil Wayne’s influence, and the subsequent seeds he planted from which himself and countless other brands of absurdist punchline rap bloomed. That’s respect.
Kendrick really jumps for the jugular. “untitled 1” sounds like a maelstrom that hasn’t been mastered. As a technical MC, he really is quite something. Not to mention he’s got Bilal playing around in the studio as an opening. That’s respect.
The second track is titled “Smell Like Money.” It smells like -reeks of- money. I wish I smelt like money. Money smells like dope and cologne, apparently. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne smell like money. Kendrick Lamar likely smells like money, mostly, but infused with some type of herbal tea. He seems like that type of dude to wax poetic over a delightful chai. I smell like broke college student and stale Kraft Dinner.
“I steal like Jerome Betis/Call me Trill Cosby, I might spike my own beverage.” 2 Chainz really actually says that and deserves every award for it. If you don’t enjoy 2 Chainz you probably take yourself too seriously.
This is the most fun Kendrick had in a while. Between hopping and thereafter bodying Drake’s goat-bleet flow to his dizzying last verse, not to mention a very “0 to 00”-esque list of label mates (where he actually names their accolades as opposed to release dates. Let your hair down, Ali.), Kendrick’s sprinting a marathon in his cold war with Drake. The oncoming inevitability of affluent white twitter’s cup overflowing with “Pimp! Pimp! Hooray!” memes is a bit irksome, though.
“untitled 3” somehow manages to summarize and explain the ills of the Black man in a White Man’s industry in the span two minutes and thirty four seconds better than throughout the 78 minutes of his previous album. It tackles the cultural standing of four separate races accurately at this moment in the world, or more precisely in the U.S. Shit’s heavy.
“Bounce” sounds as if the plinking synth from Watch The Throne’s “Who Gon Stop Me” was stripped bare and pulled a popper too hard in the best way. Thankfully Wayne and Tity Boi spar some of their best lines in recent memory. It’s a rare occurrence where they test their verbal dexterity. They ought to chase this pattern more often, both are in top form, invigorated as ever.
“untitled 4” demands to be heard on a quality set of headphones. The skit is either a potent commentary on educating youth from the the get-go and promoting self confidence or a extended gag on oral sex or both. Though within the context of the album, it’s largely forgettable. Regardless, the stereo mapping is something to behold.
This. This shit.“Rolls Royce Weather Every Day” slaps. Lil Wayne is rapping better than in years. Remember when he was the best rapper in the world? From 2006-2008? When he made “Hit Em Up” and “A Mili” and “Let The Beat Build”? Before the recession and Donald Trump and when Sarah Palin was more threatening than hysterical and he made “Rebirth” and the iPod came out and Will Ferrell movies were still exciting and hockey players could be spotted by their fresh white Lacoste sneakers and I didn’t have to hear about Leonardo Dicaprio finally winning an Oscar every goddamn time I open social media even though it’s already been, like, over a week or something? If Wayne started rapping like that again, could Will Ferrell win an Oscar? Could I hear about him all the time? Could Lacoste’s stock rise? No, no it won’t. But it would be nice on all accounts —minus Lacoste.* There’s hope though, his consistency in the last 18 months has risen dramatically in the last two years. ex. “Take Care”.
Cee Lo Green on “untitled 6” is a phenomenal addition. Ali Shaheed Muhammad producing the beat is a fantastic choice. The funk this settles into is great. The hook is infectious. Well done.
2 Chainz is a riot, no one can say he’s not. That’s the appeal I suppose. Kendrick isn’t hilarious, or very charismatic really. His better-than- “6 God” cadence on “untitled 2” was coy, amusing, and clever, but not hilarious. Kendrick is very smart though. But 2 Chainz doesn’t get enough credit for being smart. He’s very smart.Lil Wayne is a very talented rapper. Lil Wayne abides
“untitled 8” is a Thundercat song with Kendrick featuring, much like his spin on Flying Lotus’ “Never Catch Me.” Over an infectious funk Kendrick glides and whoops about the most morose colour. This is the happiest sad song in a minute.
“Watch Out” is a Top 5 2 Chainz cut. Originally it was released on his Trap-A-Velli Tre mixtape from last year, but finds a proper release at the tail end here, fittingly, closing with a solo track in the same vein as the opener. No one in rap, bar maybe Vince Staples and Action Bronson, is this funny. Please enlighten yourself to the naturally occurring wonder that is Tauheed Epps.
untitled unmastered is unfinished but still good. Very good. It’s about as disjointed as this quasi-review. The claim that the songs are “unfinished” is only bordering the truth though, a thin line that’s sure to add to the cult of personality hovering around everything Kendrick does. The songs on untitled unmastered. are fully formed ideas, even more so than on it’s predecessor, and lack only some minor tinkering. Didn’t an album come out just last month that was similarly unfinished? I think so. Is there a reason they aren’t receiving parallel criticism/adulation for synonymous pros/cons? Probably not -a good one anyway. Regardless, it’s better than To Pimp A Butterfly. Focused, primed, meditative and tastefully restrained. This is how To Pimp A Butterfly should have sounded.
Collegerove is exactly what a joint album between 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne can sound like, but better than one should sound in 2016. Both are never-ending punchline machines caught in a perreinal pinball match in which both are the flippers, the ball, and the fluorescent lights that light up when the jackpot is hit and the bulbs glow up and down the sides telling you “Hey, you’re great. You did it. Let’s get drunk.” Like it’s hosts at their bests, it’s endlessly quotable and even more entertaining. It’s limited in scope, though it never attempts to reach farther than the length of their tongues. But that’s fine, there’s a time an place for albums with deep sociopolitical leanings subverting what we think about the state of rap as a form of art and venue for protest. Nestled in between those there’s a niche for album’s where the protagonist exclaims that he’ll “kiss your lady, eat her pussy then kiss the baby.” The former may be more “important,” but the latter is a hell of a lot more fun to partake in. Collegrove is as good as B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time or better, and superior to any Weezy album since Tha Carter III. And To Pimp A Butterfly for that matter.
Pretension is the death of taste. If you believe a “good” album constitutes a collection of songs with a concrete thematic centre that provokes reflection with a message, bro and demands to you dig deep broski, maybe you just don’t “get” it, you know? then you will prefer untitled unmastered, which, much to it’s respect, is pretty great. Conversely, if a album worthy of your time can be spun at nearly any occasion and provide a raging time by simply travelling through the airwaves, regardless of how shallow its subject matter, your preference will fall with Collegrove. If you judge new music based on preconceived notions of what qualities and/or values it should adhere to, your not doing music right and should promptly excuse yourself to a long hard look in the mirror and figure it out. Collegrove and untitled unmastered. are each worth your time. They are both new projects from some of rap’s most essential artists at their creative peak, and Lil Wayne. They are polar opposites, and there’s room on your computer for both. Listen to both.
*Lacoste is the True Religion industrial rope tethering stitching of the footwear world. Lacoste shoes look like a blind seamstress slashed an obscenely large Tick Tack and slapped a minuscule Hungry Hippo patch on the side. Lacoste shoes are the equivalent to throwing your keys at the valet to park your Prius and tipping him the spare change in your cargo shorts. Lacoste is to stylish footwear what Dwight Howard is to marine biology.