Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Kulez Reviews - Fight For The Mic + Memories by Tom Clements

In 2008, with the UK hip hop scene burgeoning, Kulez was riding the same train from Norwich to London along with fellow rap hopefuls Arkaic and Eurgh, climaxing in his minor underground hit, “Welcome To Africa”.  This Zimbabwean-born MC was making his name heard around the battle scene, competing overseas in Scribble Jam as well as supporting major artists such as R.A. The Ruggedman, Jehst, and even dubstep pioneer Rusko.  However, in 2009, he seemed to fall off the face of the map, not releasing much more than a few myspace freestyles and losing a major-profile battle against American artist Madness by a large margin.  However, now it is 2011, and he is back with two new tracks, Fight For The Mic and Memories.

Kulez – Fight For The Mic

This begins with Kulez reminding the producer to have “no intro”, over a brooding guitar loop.  Then, the drum kicks in and Kulez begins hungrily, with complex syllable structures that sound like he has had some time to think about life, and now he is back to tell everyone else about it.  The beat is refreshingly simple (if slightly underdeveloped), with just guitar, drums, and a smatter of keyboards in between, focusing the attention on the rapper himself.  His message is delivered early and repeatedly, spitting at the start of the song: “As I stroll, what fate shows me/ To try and reach where the sky meets/ The high peaks/ And you need to inhale slowly”. Kulez really delivers his message with aplomb and his metaphors are well developed as is his story in which he creates images of himself pondering but inevitably coming to the conclusion that he and his crew are the best at rap. One area where Kulez really excels is syllable placement, seemingly putting emphasis every time the important chords roll around, or even in between them, which gives a bit of an offsetting effect.  There are a lot of good things coming from this track, however, it’s seeming lack of completion in terms of production lets its overall impact dissipate somewhat. Still, this is one of the best songs I've heard from Kulez in a while and it's a real sign of promise from the young emcee.
Score: 8/10

Kulez – Memories

Although, Fight For The Mic was not perfect, it showed genuine promise and as the next track, Memories, came on, I eagerly readied myself for what Kulez would do.  Again, it's a decent start with a stirring, if a little repetitive DJ Premier-sounding piano loop providing a solid backbone to his vocal work. Vocally, Kulez completely changes his style both in terms of flow and content; he speaks about growing up in the slums, grinding inner-city poverty and also proves himself as an able storyteller whilst a brutally honest narrative to impart to his listeners. Kulez begins this track talking about an Andy and a Chiniqua and how she has 6 babies now, and you just wish that the Kulez from the last track would tell himself to stop with the silly intro bars. Still, the lyricism that follows makes up for this and I particularly liked Kulez's laid back, off-kilter style which is genuinely unique and unlike anything I've heard from a UK emcee. It may seem as though Kulez has a sugar deficiency problem, because he sounds a little sleepy here but this is definitely deliberate and it works surprisingly well as a means of unabashed storytelling. However, the chorus is as half-hearted as you can get, with him just repeating (a common theme, isn’t it) “Bring back/ Bring back the memories”. Sadly, there are also certain production flaws such as the ridiculous cartoon sound ad lib effects throughout his verses that don’t fit the rest of the production and detract from the overall message of the song, acting as the quasi-punchlines that aren’t there and don't need to be such is the nature of the song. One of the main redeeming features of this song's production however, is the nice electric guitar that accentuates his bars from time to time, even if it does sound suspiciously like something I recently heard it on Kanye West’s album.  All in all, this is a good effort marred by unnescessarily sloppy blemishes in its production.
Score: 6/10

Kulez’s Myspace


No comments: