In a 2016 that has tempered expectations, March certainly came in like a lion. With five weeks in the month, it started with a hefty haul on March 4—a popular release date this year for bands touring in the spring—and it came strong right until its foolish end. The Body proclaimed that No One Deserves Happiness, but these records sternly disagree, spanning genres a Million Universes wide, with a Weight that left listeners Too High To Riot. Even after trimming the fat off the lamb, it got so Hella Personal, we couldn’t get it below the 23 records listed here, Yet, despite the pun-tastic titles March provided, it was the untitled and unmastered that moved us the most.
The Best Album of March 2016
Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Soon after Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo first dropped, and the fragmented album—that’s probably being edited as you read this‚was lauded by some for it’s progressive sonics and nonconformist structure, Kendrick Lamar decided to drop untitled unmastered, a project full of tracks that didn’t make the final edit of To Pimp A Butterfly.
A portion of untitled‘s brilliance is that it mirrors TLOP‘s futurist, format-be-damned structure, but does so with a soundscape predominantly steeped in classic jazz and soul. Lamar sidesteps the typical approach to hip-hop songwriting, not desiring to seek resolutions as much as hurl his emotions wherever they land on the project. The audio dream sequence that is untitled makes a strong case that his raw, spoken-word approach is best experienced without the typical boundaries major labels tend to enforce.
Even as a “previously unreleased” compilation, untitled is a monumental work that lays a blueprint for lyricists who are long on ideas but short on the ability to condense them. It speaks to the zone Kendrick’s in where even his B-sides can mark him as a visionary.
Here are the rest of our favorites for March 2016, in no particular order.