Archive for the ‘Album Review’ Category

Knox Brown-Searching

There’s no better way to describe Knox Brown than how he does it: “one of the greatest producers in the UK urban/electronic scene right now that you haven’t even heard of yet!” Still a no-name for the most, this skilled producer has managed to capture the attention of true Hip Hop fans with his debut EP, Searching. The project, which came out in early August, both denotes a proper introduction to the scene for the artist and implies what might be in store for the forthcoming career of an exciting young talent.

For a musician who is still looking for his official Wikipedia page, Knox Brown seems to already have inconceivable achievements under his belt such as working with the likes of Jay-Z, Timbaland and Mary J. Blige and producing loads of quality material in an extremely short span of a few years. Searching is a 6-track-extended play where Brown demonstrates his singing/rapping techniques in addition to displaying his usual -well, for the ones who were familiar with his music- production finesse and earns a vocalist title to go along with all the somehow unheard accomplishments he had made. Although this short album is undoubtedly no showcase of Hip Hop vocals, his indisputable harmony with new school Hip Hop voices makes a serious argument on how far his music can travel.

Most sources are going to tell you that Knox has been raised in Birmingham, UK, which is technically correct, nevertheless the major element contributing and giving heart and soul to his sound is his origins. It should be no surprise to anyone with a set of ears and some basic knowledge on world music history after listening to a random pick out of the six songs that Jamaica is the country where his roots lie, providing him the desired inspiration for his tunes. His style is as local as it gets for the most of the EP, with a pinch of musical futurism to make it a near perfect balance. Album’s intro song “Dear Mr Brown” is one of the examples for this successful combination whereas the musician, who now spends most of his time in the US working on new projects, has chosen to paint the sound all over with refreshing and laid-back Jamaican melodies on “Searching, Pt. II” where his vocals may be perceived as a Jamaican Anderson .Paak -not taking anything from Knox’s uniqueness- who’s also a featured artist in Searching.

Whilst Brown’s sound and productions focus on his homeland and his musical ideals, the lyrical themes surrounding the EP includes a lot of what happened during his term in the UK. Not everything has gone according to the plan after his move to Birmingham, especially his non-British identity causing him troubles he didn’t need and it’s rather easy to identify his lyrics as reflections of what he’s been through. If his extended play is to be described with one word, it should be nothing other than “freedom” as his concern over social issues frequently arise during his verses, where he highlights his yearning for being free and independent as a human being. Tough life experiences seem to have left visible scars on Knox and the only constructive outcome of it was how positively his music had been impacted by past ordeals. The vibrant “No Slaves” sees the musician singing, “Oh we don’t wanna be slaves, we don’t wanna be slaves / No, not gonna stand it, not gonna stand it,” just like an open letter to the cruel system that he believes to be entrapped in, while he ends the track “The People” by crying out, “Don’t you wanna be free? I just wanna be free” to underline his lack of the feeling once more.

Knox Brown is still at an early stage of his professional music career and it won’t be a smart move to come up with presumptions or predictions on his future, still there are lessons to be learned about this proficient musician based on Searching. It’s evident that he doesn’t plan on stop exploring innovative ways to improve his music and make sure it’s state-of-the-art, but he also unveiled how committed he is to his roots and representing his country and culture. Expect to hear a lot more from the versatile Jamaican in the upcoming years. The window to say “I listened to Knox Brown before it was cool” is closing rapidly.

Get the album here.


Sylvan LaCue - Far From Familiar

Sylvan LaCue is definitely not going to be the next Kanye West or the next Rick Ross. He’s not headed to be the future of Hip Hop music, either. And that is fine for a guy who has always preferred producing remarkable work over being on top of the music charts or in the centre of attention. His latest album Far From Familiar may be just a mini “project” as he likes to label it, however, it sure feels like a major debut of an upcoming rapper with lots of potential.

Having been critically acclaimed maybe for the first time in his professional music career for his last mixtape Searching Sylvan, the Miami native had left his humble fanbase wondering about the next move he would be making, which has turned out to be his best one so far. Testing the audience’s reaction by keeping it strictly about his personal experiences and making the toughest two years of his life fit into a 17-track album seems to have worked for the musician as Sylvan again uses one of his strongest suits, his storytelling skills, to cover the next two years of his encounters. This time, though, the picture he paints is clearer with a few dark spots splattered over the canvas to ensure us that there are still issues that need to be addressed even though the future looks brighter than ever before.

Sylvan LaCue may have chosen to abandon his QuESt persona, but it’s crystal clear he has managed to pass on his high quality flows along with his expertise in storytelling to this new and old identity of his. “Fall From Grace” stands out as the perfect example of how mature and versatile his rapping technique has become. The first verse of the song has to be considered as one of the best of the year and his career as the rapper uses 3 to 4 different rap flows to call out his alleged competition, show off his nonchalant attitude and pledge to fulfil his dreams. One significant line is, “I be that living example of doing whatever it takes” which sums up Sylvan’s life philosophy: Turn a deaf ear to the critics, follow the road you believe to be the best for you and never stop walking.

Sylvan also seems to have improved his taste for experimentalism, both in terms of production and lyrical structure, helped by a handful of producers led by Linzi Jai, whom certainly assisted him on taking the next step after his searching for and eventually finding Sylvan. Instead of sticking with humdrum beats and typical rap song layouts, he has chosen to explore his creative instincts which led the album into having multidimensional songs such as “Emeryville” and “Studio City” and songs into having spontaneous bridges and colorful hooks with “Back to the City” making a strong case for this category. In an industry where idolizing has gone so far to the extremes that it could now be called copying, it’s impressive how unique Sylvan LaCue can manage to stay.

“‘Cause you are not the only one, that wants to be the only one” raps Sylvan LaCue, who sounds more ready than ever to become the one he believes he is destined to be. Embracing and holding on tightly to his spiritual side for the most of the album, Sylvan raises the bar even more for his upcoming project, At What Cost?. The Miami native undoubtedly doesn’t lack any confidence, which works in his favor as a powerful combination along with his high technical capacity and lyrical flair. Being the farsighted person he is, it won’t be hard for us to guess his next move is already on the way.

Get the album here.

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