Reviews

Rapper Kiro Gives Listeners A Vicarious Walk Through His Madness

The LP is a mix of therapeutic release and harsh lessons.

Two things have consistently proven themselves correct. One, life sometimes takes unexpected twists and turns—and things don’t always go as expected. Two, addiction has no bias and no mercy. LA-based Kiro has learned both of these truths first hand. 

“I attended college with hopes of one day becoming a criminal defense lawyer but dropped out three years in due to opiate addiction,” he tells AAHH. After getting clean, he moved to LA to pursue music but unfortunately relapsed, resulting in him becoming homeless.

His LP, Bobblehead, is a reflection of the messy, frantic reality of living on the streets and the consequences of choices (“Prices”), unhealthy relationships that enable addiction (”Blues”), and overcoming with conviction—and a love of Hip Hop.

The album itself is at points sonically spastic—over-the-top echoes, harshly mixed vocals—yet, finds it’s footing, in the way that skit-heavy early work by Madlib finds a way to sew it all together. The Biggie sample used as the chorus on “Blues,” or the jazzy bop of “Who?,” even the spacey, almost a Neptunes-esque sound of “Survival Tactics” help to balance out some of the looser/freestyled material.

Some of the freestyle, train of thought bars, paired with some of the project’s engineering choices—intentional or not—could be a bit of a turn off for some listeners more drawn to today’s wave of hip-pop artists, and less so with head scratching classics by the likes of Kool Keith (often meant for a niche audience). Still the heart and soul of the project shines through as the LP presses forward through what could be possibly the cinematic soundtrack to a gritty indie film circa mid-90s.

“[I] put together with the hopes that I can help somebody else avoid mistakes I made,” he says. One listen to “Survival Tactics” is enough to not only reaffirm his authenticity but sway younger listeners from choices that may ultimately lead them to have actually to use the almost biblical amount out street smarts he’s given us.

It’s not for everyone, but the vision and experience are satisfying after a top to bottom spin.

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Reviews, unsigned hype

Marcoof500 – “Marco The Merchant” #Review

From the onset of his debut project, 2018’s The Travels Of Marco, Marcoof500 — an entrepreneur in every sense of the…

From the onset of his debut project, 2018’s The Travels Of Marco, Marcoof500 — an entrepreneur in every sense of the word — the Virginia upstart has been feeding his extremely loyal cult following with a steady slew of releases. Since that initial warning shot, he dropped the 4-song Kitchen Chronicles EP, which featured (among other things) the song “10 O’Glock” — a record he’s chosen to make the cut for his latest LP, Marco The Merchant.

The nine-song affair is an exciting blend of stylistic elements with varying degrees of commercial viability and earworm appeal. “10 O’Glock” for example has this vintage No Limit appeal to it sonically, that grow on you with Marco’s bars and loud, but noteworthy adlibs like “fuck Trippie Redd,” or the “Left-right uppercut that ends the song off.”3

While he uses a familiar formula on a number of the songs — that still manage to work — like the piano-driven “500k,” it’s when he puts his marketability on display that you get a full spectrum of his vision. “Pesos” is a definite standout, with an instrumental that sounds ripe for a YG feature. It’s one of the sole records that you could easily hear at the club, or within a mix show format, with its repetitive chorus that you’ll find yourself singing throughout your daily moves.

Another surprisingly flame emoji record is “Designer,” which we found ourselves returning to throughout the past week. Over the blown out bass of the lo-fi banger, he finds his footing and keeps the flow steady, with a razor-sharp barrage of bars that is perfectly encased by the soundscape.

With his label 500entertainmentllc and a track record of having toured as far as Japan, he’s clearly defined his lane and is keeping his overall aesthetic on the right track. Even when his material works harder to merely fit in with the wave, it manages to swim with the best of them — but when he’s hot, he’s hot. His journey is exciting to witness, and by intertwining it into his music, he’s giving his music not just a personal touch, but an inspirational gloss for a generation of new listeners and artists looking to see who ultimately floats to the top.

Whether it’s on some smooth Valee-esque vibes, or if it’s on some darker street fare like “Will They?” there’s a sense of authenticity that shines through. Marcoof500 is that dude!

Take Marco The Merchant for a spin, below.

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Reviews, unsigned hype

“Play To Win” Is A Celebration Of Getting Over And Going For The W

A new EP that landed on our desk this week is Play To Win by Dre Steelo. Hailing from Michigan,…

A new EP that landed on our desk this week is Play To Win by Dre Steelo. Hailing from Michigan, Dre dives head first into a sea of familiar soundscapes but manages to distinguish himself sticking to not only a decree of keeping it real with those that matter most but also an endearing level motivation to rise above, layered over a humble base of blessings that he is more than aware of.

Sitting at 6 tracks, the album’s production is tightly curated, keeping the vibe consistent — but varied enough so that there isn’t time to get bored at all. The project starts off strong with the salute to his team “Don’t Matter” produced by Aham — who produced “I Can Tell” from his 2018 effort Over Tha Top. Here he drops introspective gems like he doesn’t have friends — but rather brothers — and a reminder that he’s from the (bottom) bottom. He follows up with the determination anthem, “Win.”

“I Know,” with its hard drums and dope muffled looped up sample has a more reflective aesthetic about it, as he gives everything he overcame before putting it all into the bars. “Let em knwo you human,” he says on the chorus, referencing the track’s slightly more personal touch.

The album project ends off with the massive “Miracles,” which caps off what stands as a strong collection of tracks to add to his already impressive catalog. Winning by adding personality and unique perspective to an already surfable wave, he manages to command attention without fading into the baseline. He has come a long way, and in many ways, Play To Win is a reflection of that, as he sorts out trust issues, comes to terms with truths, and does his best to get where he wants to ultimately be.

Check out Dre Steelo’s Play To Win, below.

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Eminem: Kamikaze- A Relapse of Epic Proportion

Poor Eminem. He’s damned if he do and damned if he don’t. His last album, 2017’s pop-heavy Revival, flopped by…

Poor Eminem. He’s damned if he do and damned if he don’t. His last album, 2017’s pop-heavy Revival, flopped by way of social media yet wasn’t a total disaster. It moved units and afforded him headlining spots on the summer festival circuit- but it didn’t give the fans what they needed. Or did it?

This conundrum surrounds Eminem’s career. When he’s on there’s only a handful of rappers alive who can compete with his pen and his fury. But when he bogs down projects with introspection- giving us a break from his hyper-aggro screaming at the mic- it feels like we’ve been cheated. Stans can’t deal with the sappy pop-crossovers, and today’s charts simply do not have space for good old-fashioned rap acrobatics. So what’s an aging top-five-dead-or-alive rapper to do?

Marshall Mathers unleashed Kamikaze as his response to the Twitter army (and critics) who condemned him- an unexpected and venomous (although carefully measured) surprise album packed with more syllables than a semester’s worth of English-as-a-second language classes. As we all secretly hoped for, rappers ain’t safe from Em’s verbal barrage of double and triple time bars on Kamikaze, and if you have time to unpack these 13 tracks you’ll find some genuine heat.

Unfortunately, if you really unpack these ferocious bars you’ll find a grumpy old man rapping for the simple sake of reminding us how technically skilled he truly is. The problem is we’ve known that for ages. Reverting back to early 2000’s Eminem complete with the use of “faggot”- his favorite homophobic slur on the otherwise bulletproof “Fall”- does little to contribute to his relevance in 2018.

There are a few maniac standouts on Kamikaze, songs that young rappers should study for the intricate art of word play and cadence (check “The Ringer”, and “Not Alike” featuring Royce Da 5’9). Yet, those lessons are harder to learn when it’s impossible for the listener to catch their breath. For most of the record, Em is in such rapid-fire mode that you absolutely have to run back verses and entire songs to truly digest his messages. Rap nerds and old heads will revel in the task, but is that what the game needs these days? I’d argue no

Kamikaze is a rare full-on barrage of supernatural MC’ing; but it comes and goes without much meaning when the target becomes Machine Gun Kelly-who tweeted about Eminem’s attractive daughter back in 2012. Is there really a hip-hop fan alive willing to side with MGK on this one? And if you’re looking for the most lukewarm, mediocre diss track (possibly ever recorded) check out MGK’s response, “Rap Devil”, a headscratcher that splits its time attempting to discredit Em while simultaneously praising his longevity and abilities. You either want the smoke or you don’t? Like it or not, the whole thing feels like a charade.

Eminem has always carried a chip on his shoulder. When the critics go low, he goes lower. While Kamikaze is far from a low point in what will be viewed someday as a catalog of studio hits and misses, it’s far from the return to form that it was intended to be. He might not be afraid to take a stand, but it’s become tiring trying to figure out exactly who Eminem is standing against.

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Reviews, unsigned hype

Soo Casa Drops His Self-Titled Debut Project

Hailing from — of all places, Burlington (Ontario) — rapper Soo Casa, so has appeared on the site in the…

Hailing from — of all places, Burlington (Ontario) — rapper Soo Casa, so has appeared on the site in the past, has finally gifted his growing fan base with a self-titled body of work. At a hefty 15 songs, which includes a few songs weève already worn out (but are revisiting), he manages to craft a complete picture of his artistic vision that loosies hinted at, but failed to encapsulate fully.

“Cldhnky,” a stylized form for cold honky, “Top Ramen,” and “Ksubi Slushie” had already been floating around and found their way into our listening sessions — as early as late last year. What we found interesting was how versatile of a picture it painted of the MC. While the latter two songs have these interwoven melodies and auto-tuned vocals, “Cldhnky” had this early 2000s vibe to it, that above everything, illustrate his ability to drop rhyme patterns.

“One Take” is another spot that sees him dropping fire rapid-fire flows without missing any pockets. There is also a whole ounce of self-aware humor injected, with over-the-top bars like: “I also rock Balenciagas, put my dick in your girl’s mouth and make her Lady Gaga.”

Songs like “Perc” and “Iactuallylikelilpump” are sonically sound, and reflective of his cohort, but do little to further his artistic vision. To be candid, we’re not 100% sure what his grand idea is, and the breadth of the songs are more or less focused regarding thematic direction, but it’s song structure and delivery that helps draw out his most potent moments.

“Guacamole” comes across as one the standouts on the tracklist, with a flame emoji instrumental and that Soo rides like a dirtbike down a Philly block. “Twice That” with Kid Frankie was another moment that suited him, with this bouncy West Coast vibe that needed to be MUCH longer than a minute and forty seconds. As well, “juicehouse” produced by Platinum producer CashMoneyAP (Migos, Young Boy Never Broke Again, SahBabii, etc.) is another moment worth a few spins.

 

It was also refreshing to see him step out of the lane a few times and try new things. “$wang” with its heavy R&B hook, and bouncy “grinding a shorty at a summer bashment” aura was a pleasant surprise. Would also be remiss not to bring up that sample flip on “Tokyo Plugin,” which was another example of his readjusting his style slightly with pleasant results.

 

Overall, the Slushie God managed to give a little more definition to his range and potential. With summer coming to a close, and as the fall sets in, it’ll be interesting to see what his next moves are and if he chooses to fully marry one of the many faces he’s shown on this LP.

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Jahan Nostra’s “ESP” Project Is A Dope Ride

Had a new LP float across my desk this week, ESP by Jahan Nostra — an emcee mounded by Stamford,...

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