K Beats is a 21-year-old rapper, primarily based in Bloemfontein and Joburg, who I've been impressed with in the past as a result of his pure rapping ability. K Beats has pushed an array of projects as an attempt to further his name. His latest project is titled, "A Long Way From Home".
A Long Way From Home is a frustrating album in both a positive and a negative sense. As K Beats displays good ability and potential while simultaneously hindering himself at times. I'll first begin with the positives:
What initially drew me in to K Beats was his rapping ability and he showcases it well yet again, on this project. K Beats delivers on every single line (not ever wasting a bar). Constantly saying something that comes across as good punchlines, witty/clever or draws you in with his writing through how honest it is emotionally.
"I been dropping classics, I was missing classes. Gave so many bars I felt static, I was dropping fire, no matches." (An example of dope punchlines)
"And it hurts that I couldn't take some things back. All those yellowbones who made hate the nik naks" (An example of humour/wit)
"For long I was a victim of myself and my depression, it took a couple of years a couple of scars I learnt my lessons." (An example of his candid writing)
K Beats displays an ability to be able to follow creative concepts or subject matters of songs. On "Welcome To My Mind", the concept is to walk you into his head, while "Cuffed" deals with a story (where a man is engaged with a woman who is in a relationship and dives into that), which comes off as quite charismatic.
His subject matter tends to be focused on issues that aren't often spoken of in South African Hip-Hop. Topics like mental health and the issues that come with that, such as anxiety or depression. He manages to discuss this quite openly. To me, these are important messages that help elevate his music and differentiate him from others.
Some of the samples that can be heard throughout the project are gorgeous like on "Crazy/Lockdown", which also displays the variety in production every now and then. Going from trap-influenced sounds noticeable by the hi-hats and bass, to the more 90s inspired groovy sound that seems like it would be on a GTA San Andreas soundtrack on "Welcome To My Mind". Although, for the most part, K Beats chooses more mellow production, but in comparison to his previous work, his production choices have gotten better. And now, the negatives:
Other aspects of rapping:
While K Beats is a more than capable lyricist, there are other factors that affect rapping besides solely lyrics, and these factors can sometimes plague K Beats. What I've noticed is that he tends to have the same flow and delivery on most tracks, and while this can work well if you're naturally charismatic – K Beats doesn’t always sound confident in his delivery and voice. He carries a monotone flow often and these factors hinder a track and more so, a body of length. The listener can become disinterested due to how monotonous it becomes and it can easily turn into a drag when you should be keeping the listener focused on what you're saying, especially as a lyrical rapper. The few times where K Beats does change up his flow, it adds more dynamism to the music.
The production (yes, again):
While the production is enjoyable for the most part, there are times where the production feels quite stagnant. K Beats sometimes chooses beats that don't suit the rapping that he does, disconnecting him from the beat selection.
The technical stuff:
How the music sounds is important to the listener. And no, I'm not talking about the actual musicality, but rather – the more technical factors such as the quality of the mixing and mastering and the clarity of the voice. While lower quality mixing has seen a rise in rap recently, it's usually done intentionally and it's fitting to the sound. I don't think that that's the case here, as K Beats tends to sound muffled in his audio which affects how the music is received as better audio quality/mixing and mastering would've have enhanced the listening experience.
All in all, “A Long Way From Home” displays a lot of what I enjoy about K Beats. His skill with the pen, his ability to tap into his emotions, and how slick he can be with his rapping. But frustration also comes this as K Beats has all the qualities in the world to be THE rapper but there are still aspects of his craft that are holding him back. The good news though? It can always be improved, and maybe his potential can one day be truly fulfilled.
Written by: Ipeleng Thobejane | Twitter @InsightThobe
Edited by: Dithekgo Mogadime | Twitter @DithekgoM