King Kaii | Prevail | EP Commentary
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
King Kaii spent the better part of 2020 seated on a plane, traveling back and forth between Maryland, Mississippi and New Mexico. Last year he released an EP, 'Kali Pack' and an album, the critically acclaimed 'Revived' which marked a sonic departure for the artist. The four tracks on Kali reflected the sound his listeners have come to know and love; bombastic instrumentation, roaring bass and hard hitting lyrics often empowering and braggadocios. The latter project saw him taking a more melodic route in both instrumentation and vocal delivery, while his lyricism began to soften to more intimate and interior subject matter, exposing new sides of the young MC. These things combined with less bass and more strings can be a risky move in the hip-hop world.
He has followed those up with a project that could be described as a fusion of the two. Both the old and new King Kaii show up on the five track EP, 'Prevail'. If 2020's 'Revived' was the artist finding himself, this is him expressing that self fully and boldly. The familiar booming instrumentation is there and the strings from 'Revived' have stuck around also, resulting in a sound that is distinctly King Kaii. This fusion of styles is best reflected in tracks like Beauty and the Beast and Stripper Party. Beauty sees the artist leaning into the melodic vocal delivery of recent with instrumentation thats more upbeat in line with his earlier work. The latter track features Cambridge, MD artist 410 Kut. While the lyrics and delivery is more akin to their previous collaborations the sampling is much more experimental.
The way he's blended his styles together is truly impressive and really pays off. Other tracks like Paranoid and ill Will are sonically more distinct. The first being very melodic and the second more heavy hitting, but lyrically they are both quite dark and interior in nature. In Paranoid he foregoes his usual confident demeanor to reveal hidden vulnerability and doubt. He channels his rage and aggression featured prominently on projects like Code Red into ill Will, but once again the subject matter is far more personal. These songs came together organically over several months. Recorded during one and two day trips back home to Maryland and featuring production from some lauded industry goats; the homies over at Ear-4-It Studios here in Cambridge and the curly haired wizard, Raj over in Easton, this album sounds amazing. It's a familiar formula, employed on many of his previous projects and feels perfected here. The production is deliberate and effective. Kaii's delivery is earnest and unwavering. An artist who has come into his own.
I've loved all of his projects and this one feels the most authentic; I'm excited about all he has to come. We caught up recently while he was in town finishing up the project. We listened to the album and he explained to me the meaning and inspiration behind each song and now I'm sharing them with you. Enjoy.
Peace and love,