With all that I listen to and review, I like to give it multiple listens so I can get a good feel for it. When something is exceptionally good, I want to take time with it. King Rhythm‘s Hardships & Head Trips (Catalyst Act) is an album that I’ve been playing quite a bit in the last few weeks, and I feel like I want to hoard it, keep this to myself. But what good is that, the great thing about music is that you want to let everyone know about it, and that’s why I do what I do.
When the album arrived, I opened it and within the cover was an album on red vinyl. Beauty. The music on it is the kind of stuff I live for, quality hip-hop that not only challenges me, but challenges itself. With a name like King Rhythm, it almost has a ska/reggae feel in the vein of people like King Tubby, but I will say that they both share a love for adventure in their music. King Rhythm pretty much does everything on this album: write, produce, mix, record, engineered, and more. The opening track goes through a bit of funky atmospherics before he rhymes over what may sound like a 3/4 time signature, but you can also hear that as 4/4 with couplets. He speaks about wanting to tear away boundaries and conventions (“Bangin’ The Wall”) and he does so by taking each line and making it sound like tools of the trade that haven’t been used in awhile. The music is a bit more abrasive in nature, almost industrial, than most hip-hop coming out as of late but this isn’t too left-of-center. “Demolition Session 95” sounds as if Mike Shinoda hooked up with Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy, MC 900 Ft. Jesus & DJ Zero, or Front Line Assembly.
What I like about the lyrics is that there’s a sense of confidence that comes from the love of writing and wordplay, there’s a sense of composition that will make this a must-have album for anyone who enjoys composition in their hip-hop and not pre-school decoupage. Hardships & Head Trips covers those topics as part of the fabric of hip-hop and life in general. That may sound like something you’d expect from an Arrested Development album, and the sounds here are distant from what the Atlanta group were known for. King Rhythm is very much someone walking to his own heartbeat, but hopes to find those who find something in common with the great stories he has to share.
(The vinyl version of Hardships & Head Trips can be purchased directly from KingRhythm.com.)