From the very beginning this album peaked my interest. Who was on the other side of the phone call in the intro? What’s the significance of that conversation? I could already tell that Spec Kay is the type of artist that’s telling you a story with purpose.
The album begins extremely strong with “Welcome to Nowhere” and “Chain Gang” kept me excited with driving piano hits and drums that sound like sticks on bucket, in a very good, “vintage-Kanye” way.
It’s worth stating at this point that this entire record, to me, seems very influenced and similar to some of the best; Nas, Kendrick, Kanye to name a few. It’s very apparent this is the type of person who’s not going to dumb down what he has to say, and rightfully so.
In a time where the less you say, the more radio play you get, Spec Kay is willing to stand firm and let you know he has a voice while simultaneously bringing an energy other than outright aggression back to hip-hop.
There is literally a track on XXVII titled “No Hook” that tell you up front, the verses are the highlight and specialty of this particular artist.
The grimy, dark instrumental on “Go/Time” definitely surprised me as much as the more introspective, folk influenced, Bon Iver-esque, “Radiance”.
This release really is just full of solid tracks. Like the open letter to his neighborhood, “For The Boys”, the unexpected country-infused “Yellow Brick Road” which features a great sample from a 2010 Angus & Julia Stone record of the same name.
This album closes in the most perfect way with an outright banger, “Tonight” and the epic, emotional “What’s Now”.
Plain and simple, Spec Kay’s XXVII is flipping mainstream hip-hop on it’s head. He’s proof that conscious hip-hop is neither boring nor dead.
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