Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Kokayi's album is loosely based on the theory that the majority of the rappers in today's game are either robots, emcees who pump out whatever it is they're known for with no emotion, or dinosaurs, those who were once great but have since passed their prime. As such, in this album he attempts to innovate through original production, touch on emotionally significant topics, and... rap well. He more or less succeeds in all three categories. The production switches between organic and electronic fairly seamlessly (the latter is more innovative than the former, but the former is probably more enjoyable). He gets emotional multiple times, but it's hardly overbearing and doesn't take over the whole project, something that labelmate Kno recently got criticized for in Death is Silent (specifically with depression instead of emotion as a whole). And... he raps well.
There's many different types of songs on Robots & Dinosaurs, from the jumpy synths of Roxtar to the piano-based Only to the psuedo West coast driving anthem Drive, to the flow-fest Ninety 5, featuring Kokayi, Substantial and Tonedeff (who goes a little overboard). However it never seems disjointed or all over the place. It all works as a whole. Kokayi does flex his vocal chords quite a bit, singing quite a few choruses. He's not the best singer, but there isn't a single instance where it doesn't work. His son joins him singing the closer Chanticleer, which is a nice touch seeing as he also 'narrates' the album by describing robots and dinosaurs from a kindergartner's perspective.
Roxtar was picked as the first single, which is a little odd for two reasons. One, it's one of the weaker songs on the album. Kokayi just kicks some decent raps with band names littered throughout (surprisingly he gets pretty obscure, referencing such bands as Jesus and the Mary Chain) and an alright chorus with a guitar solo contrasting the synth beat for the closure. It's an enjoyable song, but there are many better ones. Two, Only is easily the most accessible (and probably best) song on the album. Kokayi raps and sings about his love struggles over a great, self-produced piano line. Fortunately, it was chosen as the second single.
One of the best parts of the album is how little filler there is. Not every song is great, but every song is memorable. Kokayi has a great sense of musicality and it shines through all over. The features are kept light; the only song featuring guest rappers is Ninety 5 and the only song featuring a guest singer is Hiya. This provides a very intimate feel and really allows you to get to know Kokayi, as a rapper, singer, producer, and, to some extent, as a person.