A magical thing happened a couple of weeks ago between super best friends.
Unrelated, but Batman and Superman are appearing in a movie together, and it looks pretty sweet.
And lately I've started to notice a lot of real-life superhero friendships. Federer and Tiger woods used to be pals. Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake seem like they're joined at the hip. And Rihanna and Katy Perry kind of belong together IMO.
But the friendship between Kendrick Lamar and LeBron James isn't just awesome, it has recently produced a beautiful piece of art where nothing may have come to exist.
Game recognizes game, they say. It makes sense.
Kendrick is one of a group of world-class and humble musician friends. Guys like Thundercat, Kamasi Washington and the legend himself, Herbie Hancock.
Flying Lotus, another friend and one of the greatest talents in the ultra-creative group, said in an interview once that Kendrick sits on almost a dozen albums of already-recorded, ready-to-release music. This was in the context of Flylo explaining how a track of Kendrick's landed on his album, while at the same time Flylo's contribution-in-trade didn't quite make the final cut for Kendrick's To Pimp A Butterfly.
Kendrick has been playing quick sets recently, at the Grammys for example, and on late night talk shows. A few of these one- or two-song performances featured unreleased tracks, and diehard Kendrick fans took notice.
One very prominent diehard is also arguably the greatest NBA player of all time, LeBron James. Kendrick and LeBron have grown close through a mutual friendship with Clippers guard Chris Paul.
So when LeBron popped the question on Twitter about these unreleased tracks, a week later Kendrick tweeted an announcement of a release of demo tracks from the wildly successful To Pimp A Butterfly.
Kendrick calls this release untitled unmastered.
Listen to this album! It's available on Spotify, iTunes et al.
I know a bit about mastering, and these are mixed so well they really are a sonic pleasure — each track on its own. Mastering may have added a sheen to the whole package, or maybe it wouldn't have. This is a masterful creation purely from a sound perspective.
But listen to the music and the words and you may begin to agree with LeBron when he expressed that Kendrick's "outlook on things and insight he possesses aren't common."
For my ears, a predictable characteristic of Kendrick's sound is actually the variability — and his versatility in delivery. Track to track, each sounds a bit different than the last. But each pleasing in the same way. The enjoyability factor remains high with every single song you hear.
There's also his sense of looseness delivered in perfect time. At the end of the second track, Kendrick talks to the recording engineer about who he wants on the drums. His speech is perfectly metered, even without a beat playing.
The beginning of the next track tells us what he was talking about. Holy stretched skins, Batman! The drumming has me mesmerized and reminds me of classic ?uestlove.
untitled unmastered. is incredible, and you have to give it a super listen. Kamasi is on it, Flylo is in there, Thundercat put his stank on it, and there is of course plenty of the incomparable Kendrick Lamar.
Read more Taylor: colorado daily.com/columnists