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Kendrick Lamar proves even his B-sides are hits with impressive surprise album

Critically beloved rapper Kendrick Lamar got sneaky last night, dropping a surprise new album for free on Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal.

Called Untitled Unmastered, the record is a collection of 8 songs which Lamar himself calls a “project,” with material from sessions in 2013 and 2014. Each of the eight songs is labeled as “Untitled” with numbers 1-8, alongside recording dates for each song.

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The head of Lamar’s label, Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, posted a photo on Instagram earlier this week which indicated that Lamar would release new material this year, but there was no way for fans to expect it this soon. Tiffith revealed in another Instagram post that fans should expect new material from the label this week, but most of us expected it to be a release from one of the labels other artists. “Ive decided 2 drop a project 1 day this week,” he wrote in the post, “I won’t say wut day or who. It cud be 2nite So don’t ask me jus stay close to the net.”

A group of awesomely-executed rough cuts, Untitled Unmastered offers fans a view into the creative process leading up to Lamar’s breakthrough To Pimp A Butterfly, which came out last year and earned him five statues at this year’s Grammy Awards.

Lamar previously indicated that he had some unreleased material he would like to hit public ears, and some of the songs have been performed on late-night TV shows. Still, its an impressive collection to just appear out of nowhere.

“I got a chamber of material from the album that I was in love where sample clearances or something as simple as a deadline kept it off the album,” Lamar said in an interview with 2 Dope Boyz. “But I think probably close to ten songs that I’m in love with that I’ll still play and still perform that didn’t make the cut.”

These eight songs appear to be the very tracks he was talking about, perhaps with sample clearance issues removed — it’s a lot easier to make a deal when your hip-hop’s new super star darling.

With this collection of B-sides to tide things over, it will likely be a while before fans get another release from Lamar, who is probably still in the planning stages of his next major release.