Look beyond the praise heaped by the skip-load on Myths Of The Near Future and Favourite Worst Nightmare this time last year, and a couple of records repeatedly surface among the year’s most prized. They are El-P’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead and Aesop Rock’s None Shall Pass – both startlingly unique, explorative hip-hop records.
In 2008, their ilk have been reasonably scarce. Up until now, that is. K-The-I??? is one Kiki Ceac. “K is for Kiki,” he introduces. “Three question marks because three is my lucky number and I like to emphasize the size of the curiosity surrounding me. Like, ‘Who the hell is this dude?’”
His latest record, Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, is a gargantuan step from 2006 debut Broken Love Letter, assisted by wunderkind producer Thavius Beck. Bassy, flavoursome eats are sandwiched by K’s self-conscious, snake smooth voice. What inspires such chaotic sounds? “Rod Stewart – as funny as it sounds,” booms Ceac. “Starting out, I was more into non hip-hop things. I was into indie-rock, the Strokes, the Ramones, bands like that. You can hear the genre-clashing within my music. I’m not a rapper who wants a three-minute beat looped – that’d drive me crazy.”
Getting Beck (Trent Reznor and Saul Williams’ sequencer of choice) onboard, Kiki ditched his job in computers and moved from Massachussetts to LA to make the LP a reality. The partnership’s been touted as underground hip-hop’s answer to Gnarls Barkley.
”We didn’t want to make a record that’d alienate people who’d potentially be into it,” says Beck. “I wanted to make it acceptable so people aren’t scared. Edginess that’s inviting.” Living within an architecture of alien sounds, K-The-I??? still could not be any more welcoming.