Much like Nathan's 1 Listen review, I wasn’t initially planning on diving into the liner notes for Kendrick Lamar's untitled unmastered. I mean, it’s not a full-fledged "album" and I’m still recovering from my absurdly long The Life Of Pablo investigation, but the people demanded it and so here I am. It may be unmastered, but it's already the best selling rap album of 2016 and it's another brick in the legacy Kendrick's building - you're right, it deserves liner notes.
Now, this isn't an official-official list - I based it off the credits that have been going around after the label refused to send them over - so please let us know if there are any additions or subtractions, but it's better than nothing. I've tried, but if you can somehow get Top or Punch on the line to hand over the truly complete credits, I'll be happy to update and amend. And with that in mind, let's go.
Swizz Beatz (Production Credit on “untitled 07 l 2014 - 2016”)
Swizzy produced the second half of “untitled 7.” Like Frank Dukes (see below) he also appeared on TLOP - big month for the Swizzster. The veteran producer also married Alicia Keys, which led to the creation of Egypt Dean, who co-produced the second half of “untitled 07 l 2014 - 2016,” so it feels like he deserves an unofficial credit for that, too.
Bilal (Featured on “untitled 03 l 05.28.2013.”)
Bilal was all over To Pimp A Butterfly, so it’s not surprising to see his name here. On “untitled 03” he contributes that funky, almost off-kilter pseudo-hook, “I holler, ‘What you do? What you say?’”
Bizness Boi (Production credit on “untitled 04 l 08.14.2014.”)
Bizness Boi produced “untitled 4.” The credits say the effort is co-produced by him and Nard&B, but according to Nard&B themselves they aren’t on the album, so this might be a Bizness Boi individual effort. This is likely the first time you’ve heard his name, but he is definitely one to watch. Bizness Boi stays busy. He has racked up credits with Trae The Truth, Ye Ali, and Eric Bellinger. I recommend perusing his Soundcloud. I could see him doing big things; his drums knock like the big bad wolf.
Cardo (Production Credits on “untitled 02 l 06.23.2014.” and “untitled 07 l 2014 - 2016”)
Cardo got wingzzzzzzz. If you don’t know who Cardo is, you have some homework to do. This is an argument for another time but in my opinion, he’s one of the most underrated producers in the game. In addition to the two credits on the Kendrick director's cut, he’s worked with Nicki Minaj, Freddie Gibbs, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Game, Curren$y, Wale and Jeezy. (Speaking of Jeezy, in my "research" for this piece I remembered that “Seen It All” is hotter than Jhené Aiko on the sun and I don't even really mess with Jeezy like that.) We interviewed him one time too; he’s awesome.
CeeLo Green (Featured on untitled “untitled 06 l 06.30.2014.”)
Do I even need to break this man down? If you don't know CeeLo you might as well log off right now. He gave a breakdown of how this effort came to be here.
Egypt Dean (Production Credit on “untitled 07 l 2014 - 2016”)
Everyone is going nuts because Egypt, Swizz and Alicia Keys’ 5-year-old son, has a production credit on “untitled 7.” Swizz claims he had no help, but this is totally one of those situations where a kid brings a fully functioning volcano into the science fair and claims he did it all on his own. I’m not buying it. Also he’s only five and is already more successful than me so yes, jealousy might be a factor here.
Frank Dukes (Production Credit on “untitled 07 l 2014 - 2016.”)
Franky Dukes is having one hell of a 2016. First he appeared on TLOP, then on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s album, and now untitled unmastered. It’s cool to watch a producer get on a hot streak like this. I wonder what’s next? If only someone had the foresight to interview him months ago.
Yung Exclusive (Production Credits on “untitled 02 l 06.23.2014.” and “untitled 07 l 2014 - 2016”)
Yung Exclusive seems seems to roll with Cardo a lot. He has two credits on untitled unmastered., in addition to a 2 Chainz track, and the TDE fan-favorite cut, Jay Rock's Black Hippy-assisted “Vice City” among many others.
Hit-Boy (Production Credit “untitled 01 l 08.19.2014.”)
Formerly of Very G.O.O.D Beats, Hit-Boy signed to Interscope in 2013 and has his own imprint, Hits Since '87. He has produced some blockbuster tracks over the years, including “N***az In Paris,” “Goldie,” “Clique,” and “Trophies.” And that's just the tip of the iceberg. To bring things full circle, Hit-Boy additionally produced Kendrick’s “Backseat Freestyle.” Pharrell, Sounwave, and Terrace Martin are the only other producers to appear on both GKMC & TPAB, so it's interesting to know that while this effort didn’t make the final cut he was present for sessions on both albums.
Kendrick Lamar (Everything)
LEVITATE LEVITATE LEVITATE LEVITATE
Da Internz (Production Credit on ““untitled 03 l 05.28.2013.”)
Da Internz is a Chicago based duo made up of Marcos "Kosine on Da Beat" Palacios and Ernest "Tuo" Clark. The pair have gold and platinum-certified album credits to their name thanks to Big Sean (Dark Sky Paradise, Hall Of Fame and Detroit), Nicki Minaj, and Nas. Amazingly they do R&B with just as much flair, earning credits on albums from John Legend, The-Dream, and Tank. I really love their contribution here, one of the most interesting productions on the project.
DJ Khalil (Production credit on “untitled 08 l 09.06.2014.”)
Like Frank Dukes, DJ Khalil is on a hot streak. In the last few years, he has produced this effort (which was performed on Jimmy Fallon), Wale’s “The Matrimony,” Rocky’s “Holy Ghost,” Dre’s “All In a Day’s Work” and several cuts on Anderson .Paak’s Malibu. Excited to see him continue to rack up the Ws.
Terrace Martin (Featured on “untitled 03 l 05.28.2013.”)
Along with Kendrick, Sounwave, and Thundercat, Terrace was a major player on To Pimp A Butterfly. The longtime collaborator of Kendrick appears as a feature (no production credit) on "Untitled 3." He is on the keys and the horns.
Ali Shaheed Muhammad (Production Credit on “untitled 06 l 06.30.2014.”)
You know you are killing the fucking game when a track featuring the vocals of CeeLo and the production of Ali Shaheed Muhammad (and the forthcoming Adrian Younge) are on your cutting room floor. You likely know Ali from A Tribe Called Quest but be sure to check out the dope stuff he does for NPR’s Mic Check, too. The man's clearly nowhere near finished making music.
Punch (Featured on “untitled 05 l 09.21.2014.”)
TDE"s president is also becoming a force on the mic as well. He's contributed a handful of verses to TDE projects before, and now there's rumblings that he might knock out a solo project.
Jay Rock (Featured on “untitled 04 l 08.14.2014.” and “untitled 05 l 09.21.2014.”)
Kendrick’s big brother appears twice on the project. You already know who Jay Rock is, but it’s important to remember that without him, none of this would exist. He was TDE’s first artist, paving the way for Kendrick.
SZA (Featured on “untitled 04 l 08.14.2014.”)
TDE’s songstress laid down some supporting vocals on “Untitled 4.” She is only one feature short of matching her total credits on To Pimp A Butterfly. Though she wasn't a main player in the TPAB sessions she managed to find a spot on both albums. Related: I can’t wait for her album.
DJ Spinz (Production Credit “untitled 01 l 08.19.2014.”)
Alongside Hit-Boy, Atlanta’s own DJ Spinz has a production credit on “untitled 01 l 08.19.2014.” It's interesting to see his name here since he primarily works with Future - he produced “Fuck Up Some Commas” - as well as Ty Dolla $ign, Wiz, Gucci and August Alsina; none of which scream TPAB. I wonder if that’s his voice in the intro?
Thundercat (Featured on “untitled 03 l 05.28.2013.”)
One of the least surprising credits. Thundercat had the second most credits on To Pimp A Butterfly behind only Sounwave (13 total), so it’s no surprise to see his name show up here; hey, they couldn’t all make To Pimp A Butterfly. Important to note, Thundercat only has a feature credit and not a production credit. Da Internz produced “Untitled 3.”
Anna Wise (Featured on “untitled 01 l 08.19.2014.” and “untitled 03 l 05.28.2013.”)
It’s only natural that Anna’s vocals are featured on this project as she’s one of Kendrick’s go-to vocalists. Her close relationship with Kendrick has led to speculation she’s one of TDE’s new artists. Also, while the credits I based this article off of didn’t list her name, she says she was on “Untitled 1” and I can definitely hear her at the end.
Adrian Younge (Production Credit on “untitled 06 l 06.30.2014.”)
A legendary producer and composer (his input on that PRhyme is criminally overlooked), Younge co-produced the CeeLo-featured “untitled 06” alongside Ali Shaheed Muhammad, making it the most star-studded effort on the whole project.
There is so much talent here! I know Kendrick is at the forefront, I know it's his project, but it cannot be overstated how much this effort and Kendrick's overall vision is about more than just him. The talent on this composition from top to bottom, from the first track to "untitled 8," is astounding. I can't help but think of how much more material is sitting on a hard drive, excellent but unfinished.
How many Kendrick dressing room jam sessions are still unheard? How many more random Robert Glasper piano numbers are lying around on people's phones? It seems like the layers to this album, the sub-plots and side stories never seem to end, ultimately all adding to the album's "aura." It's the gift that keeps on giving.
Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth. His favorite album is College Dropout but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth. Image via Reebok.