Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
Earlier this year, I was highly complimentary of an aspiring young hip hop artist who called himself BK Forever. Now, just under the alias of BK, he has put out a full nine track album. The whole endeavor was written and performed by BK and recorded, mixed, and mastered by Carm, an engineer in Ontario. Does it hold strong to the promise of his last single in January? Let’s dig right into ‘Everything Is Changing But We Are Forever’ to find out.
In the spirit of his previous work, BK has accented himself on this record with a number of guest producers. If you’re spinning the record on Sound Cloud, it’s worth leaving the playlist to actually read the lyrics in the descriptions of each song. BK’s mastery of sly pop culture references and slick verses is poignant on ‘Everything Is Changing,’ and that’s definitely exhibited in the opener, a track produced by Alexander Lewis entitled ‘And The Time Is...’
That song may be the perfect introduction to BK’s album. It’s a resolute statement of authority and independence, essentially casting aside all of the superficial elements of the hip hop scene in favor of artistry. He’s not on a label; he’s not controlled by anyone; he’s not a completely mindless millennial drone like Jaden Smith. Lewis’ production is really thick, heavily pulling upon an electronic style that suits the sound well.
The best part of ‘Everything Is Changing’ is that BK has surrounded himself with an array of guest producers. This results in the sound remaining pretty varied. ‘Trouble,’ for example, wasn’t produced by Lewis, but rather, Troy Samuela. While harkening to the former’s production, Samuela does have a distinct style that’s signature to the track and BK’s performance within it.
There’s a level of internal strife on ‘Trouble’ that definitely offers a stark contrast to its predecessor. “I’m facing the bottle for all of my problems,” BK sings. “I don’t wanna’ keep running, but I’m nothing but trouble.” This is the beginning of a bit of an existential journey through BK’s perceived place within his own life and music.
‘Memories,’ a track featuring production by Cecil, may be one of the absolute strongest pursuits of the collection. I adore Cecil’s production. The minimalistic piano riffing is such a different atmosphere to accent BK, and it works splendidly. BK’s elegant wordsmithing stands out even more as a result of the production’s brevity. The track is powerful, calling upon imagery of a man with a foot in the past and the future, unsure where he stands or why.
‘Alright,’ produced by ‘Mura Masa,’ is one of the more peculiar songs on the album. The autotuned R&B opener is surprisingly gorgeous, offering a variation on BK’s established soundscape. Productions like ‘Alright’ are reminiscent of someone like Chance the Rapper. The track’s emotion is similar to that of ‘Trouble,’ as BK works through imagery of his past colliding with his present in an effort to remain ‘alright.’
When Troy Samuela returns for ‘Told You So,’ so does his bombastic production style. The tune is a really hard-hitting song, akin to Kanye West’s ‘All Day’ or the like. The track exudes personality and confidence, which is interesting, since tracks like ‘Trouble’ and ‘Alright’ show insights into a very different BK. This bouncing about makes the album an emotional roller coaster.
If Samuela’s production is bombastic, then KRNE’s is cacophonic. KRNE backs BK with an all-out electronic production with hints of EDM. This actually suits the sound very well, because it’s one of BK’s most enthusiastic tracks. “We came up from the bottom, greatness is the only option,” he declares over an inspirational track of epic proportions.
NEETs production on ‘Moonwalker’ is very similar to that of Mura Masa on ‘Alright.’ NEET lets the piano take the reins and guide BK forward into a landscape of surrealness. The track is poignant, and even pseudo-samples the first half of the line of ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love.’ The track continues to echo BK’s loss of direction amidst his own peers.
Despite BK’s existential musings about the people he surrounds himself with and his life choices, he seems to find resolution in all of that by the time he greets the listener with ‘Forever.’ There is a sense of finality to his emotion on the song, and in honesty, it could have been an excellent finale. BK chooses to end the album with ‘Tides,’ another Lewis produced song - a strong song, but perhaps not as good of a finale as ‘Forever’ could have been.
‘Everything Is Changing But We Are Forever’ is an astonishingly good independent hip hop album - maybe even the strongest I’ve heard in 2016 so far. BK has remarkable promise, and this album fulfills a lot of the hopes I had for him after being introduced to one of his early singles in January. He needs to keep propelling himself forward with lyricism like this - he can’t let himself fall victim to stereotypical hip hop tropes.