|K-the-I??? combines thoughtful and provocative lyrics with an informed wit that lights up every track and keeps you coming back for more. I was genuinely disappointed when the album finished and I had to push play to listen to it all over again.|
Indeed, the production (courtesy of Saul Williams collaborator Thavius Beck) owes more to frantic IDM than it does to anything the RZA ever did. The energy in the beats simply never relents, in line with that of K-the-I???. "Cell-Shaded/Daydreams/Nightmares" seems preoccupied with existence, mulling and musing with little direction until the pivotal line "with every breath I take an earthquake takes place." This line is delivered monotonously, carefully, so the listener has no choice but to prickle. It’s a simple, almost childlike emphasis, yet at the same time, its power is exceptional.
However, some of his lyrics are so frantic they’re almost impossible to follow. On "Before the Session" the snare intro leads on to a political discourse on media infiltration in our lives, affirmative action and the difficulty on one man being heard. The medley of all these notions creates a powerful effect which is repeated throughout, like on "Just Listen" with its slow bass beat. The subject matter is love – being in and out of it specifically – but the similes and tone swim through topics like the music industry, hip hop and how to escape stereotypes.
Highlights are everywhere on Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, one has only to pick out the odd line to locate a lyrical gem. "Never trendy Mandy/handy purple people eater/retreat it/leave it to Beaver/I didn’t need her either" is purely ridiculous, and even more so when a sort of nucleus is located on "Lead The Floor": "…life is what you make of it you idiot!" It’s impossible to argue! Near-unstoppable, unbridled, assuredly and righteously disgusted energy seeps across all of these tracks.
Collaborations include High Priest and Busdriver on one of the more experimental tracks Sabbath Faster. There is also a star turn by Mestizo on the sad, moving "Man Or Machine." Here K starts at the speed of dreamy poetry, before revving it up to full on rap, repeating throughout. The main point, though, is that this guy is a serious and talented rapper, and this album gives him license to flex those tongue muscles.
K-the-I??? makes bold steps on this album, emanating poetic flamboyance without becoming too confusing, but with enough emotion and kinetic verve to satisfy even the most passive ear. On thing for sure though is that full engagement is mandatory when listening. - Planet Urban