Dr. Yen Lo – Days With Dr. Yen Lo

(Iron Works, 2015)

Brooklyn rapper Ka (Kaseem Ryan) has been involved in the groups Natural Elements and Nightbreed, as well as on Gza’s “Pro Tools” album, besides releasing his three magnificent solo albums. On this album he has worked again (after their “1200 B.C.” EP) with the producer Preservation (as Dr. Yen Lo), both doing their trademark styles.

Ka’s vocal-style is chill to say the least, altho extremely effective. The volume of his voice is almost at the level of whispering, making his style of spitting rhymes remind me of spoken-word art. The way in which he speaks his heart is pretty much the opposite of the usual boasting of traditional Hip Hop, but very much of the same strong effect. Altho the album is conceptually influenced by the film “Manchurian Candidate” (and using samples from the movie), Ka’s verses speak of the same issues as on his previous work, namely life in the streets, surviving, social issues and hope. Ka might not be as intense in presentation as most rappers, but he is definitely intense in content and effect.

The beats of this album are a perfect match with Ka’s vocals style. Almost Ambient-like in nature, most songs consist of Jazzy and Funky chill sounds full of the atmospheres of the nightly city. Organic-sounding basses, saxophones, guitars, horns, organs and other traditional instruments backed with simple percussions paint minimalistic melodies full of feelings behind Ka’s striking lyrics. The music continues the awesome feelings begun on the duo’s previous Ep, making Ka and Preservation truly a match made in Hip Hop heaven.

This album is a must hear to everyone into intelligent rapping and/or musical-feelings (of “nostalgic” nature) of the almost silent and hidden, dark sides of NYC. Also, as is the case with the previous material of Ka, adding to the atmosphere of the album, many of the songs have also been transformed into awesome music-videos (of the similar calm yet powerful style as the music), which can be found on Ka’s Youtube-channel, and are a must see, making these songs of the album awesome works of audio-visual art. After hearing this album, I can honestly say Ka (and Preservation) has become most def one my most my favourite artists in Hip Hop and in general.

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