Sunday, June 19, 2016

Kamaiyah - A Good Night In The Ghetto Review

A Good Night In The Ghetto is a big "fuck you" to the "sex sells" cliches of female rappers since Lil Kim, while at the same time, is an embracing of West Coast rap cliches since Tupac. Bay area up-and-comer Kamaiyah cares little for political posturing, and would much rather make her own versions of "Get Around" ("Niggas") and "Mo Money Mo Problems" than a "Blacker the Berry" or "A Bird in the Hand." Kamaiyah's subject matter is not broad reaching; she mostly enjoys rapping about getting fucked up, the come-up into riches, and playing "Toot It and Boot It" with men. Some would see this as a criticism, I see it as a welcome return to care-free 90s West Coast rap.

A Good Night In the Ghetto is a nostalgic album in its sound, as it relies heavily on old school West Coast production and 80s synth pop/funk instrumentals. In the music video to "Out the Bottle," Kamaiyah totes a late 80s mobster mobile phone, and on interludes throughout the album she speaks on the phone over a landline, not an iPhone. A subtle touch, but effective. But as an MC, Kamaiyah is concerned only with living life in the present. She raps about, "drinking it out the bottle," and getting "drunk as fuck," with no shame about it. The tracks in which she is at her most openly hedonistic, such as "Fuck It Up," are where she really shines. She's a female counterpart to YG; he features on this track, and she features on "Why You Always Hatin?" off Still Brazy.

On "One More Chance" off of Ready to Die, Biggie responds to a litany of voicemails left by hood rats he hit and quit. On "Niggas," Kamaiyah reverses this formula; she treats the men in her life as disposable. A nigga she's got, "gives me head 'til I'm red, then I ride him to sleep." Elsewhere on the album, she, "has a nigga goin' down like I paid him for it." The idea that Kamaiyah wants you to understand is that she's no different from the boys, both in life and especially in the rap game. As a rapper, Kamaiyah wants the same respect and popularity of West Coast rappers like YG and The Game, without having to pimp herself to the mainstream like a Nicki Minaj or an Iggy Azaelia.

Midway through this record, the sound takes a dramatic U-turn. She trades in West Coast g-funk for Southern-inspired basslines, and R&B/funk synths. In a couple tracks such as "Ain't Going Home Tonight" and "Swing My Way," she barely even raps; she sings in an oddly pleasing grainy voice that I can only describe as a combo of Lil Boosie and Remy Ma. The album smoothly transforms from a West Coast rap album into synth funk, without upsetting the flow and care-free feel of the free album.

Kamaiyah switches back and forth from West Coast party rap to smooth R&B, but the intended message and tone never changes. Kamaiyah has no time for sentimentality, conscious rap, or even telling tales about hard times in the ghetto. The title she chose is A Good Night In The Ghetto; the intended theme is optimism and having fun no matter the environment. The optimism matches Chance the Rapper on Coloring Book, but with less God and more summer anthems. A Good Night In The Ghetto was released in March of this year, but the free album is a great soundtrack to summer nights anywhere.

Download it

No comments:

Post a Comment