The album opens with what sounds like a track you’d expect from a debut album, on Above The Water featuring fellow label mate Shekinah, K.O pays homage to his parents who managed to raise a family with very little. An introspective K.O deals with the complexities of half-siblings, shouting out each one of his siblings and sharing what sounds like typical black family dynamics. The album immediately shifts gear on Ms2 which gives us the hyper-flamboyant, aggressive and macho rap persona taking shots at the game. This is an odd segue into the easy on the ear, radio-friendly Call Me featuring Nigerian star Runtown. Call Me is a quintessential must-have wallpaper radio hit record, nothing more, nothing less.
Swagganova is surprisingly reminiscent of the K.O x Kid-X Cashtime era, a grimy Skhanda vibe. From Keep Left, Pass Right Skit, which borrows from TKZee Family’s Fella Kae hook, we begin to experience the vintage Kwaito-inspired K.O we’ve come to love. On Legacy, he explores a refreshing take on making sensible financial decisions and playing it safe with the ladies, a theme he carries with much conviction. This is one of the stronger cuts on the album.
If you grew up in the hood, you’ll easily relate to the good kid m.A.A.d city-esque robbery story on Ghetto Episode. This track has all the makings of a great rap song, the flow, the vivid story-line, and the cadence is just masterful. 7even Up, a beautiful aspirational record has K.O at his best as he further deals with the betrayal of his label mates, you can’t go wrong with nostalgic crooner K.O reminiscent of his smash-hit Teargas hooks.
The Cashtime collapse (more on that here) and the subsequent fallout took a knock on him, the hook on The Warning sends a clear message to his ex-label mates, “make sure you keep it clean when you mention my name, don’t cross the line, you pay the price, I’m willing to die for it”. If you thought K.O has fallen off, you’ll have to reconsider that thought.
At a time when questions are being asked of local hip-hop’s voice, he features one of our best exports Black Coffee, on the powerful SA Rising. A socially conscious anthem that has K.O deal with corruption, xenophobia and jealousy in the black community. Directly asking questions of our President, and the lack of consciousness from fellow rappers. This is a stand-out track on the album, possibly one of the best songs this year.
The album closes off with his first two singles off the album, No Feelings and the traditional Skhanda love song Pretty Young Thing. Besides the 3 singles that dropped before the album, Ghetto Episode, 7even Up, The Warning and SA Rising are very strong favourites. A solid offering by all means.
Through the honesty and self-awareness, K.O still manages to impressively balance trappy beats, staying true to his kwaito-inspired sound, and crafting a beautiful album, he will go down as one of the best to ever do it.