BK - 'TLOJ22'

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.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we revisit BK, (formally known as BK Forever) an indie hip hop artist that I’ve lauded in the past for his exceptional music. His production has proven to be remarkably unique, and his lyricism has been poignant and consistently compelling. His latest effort is an EP entitled ‘TLOJ22,’ a bittersweet farewell of sorts. Are the six tracks worth having in your collection?

‘TLOJ22’ is a send-off because BK will be taking an indeterminately long break from creating new music after its release. As BK detailed in a blog post on his website, he’s felt that his music has been created for friends and family, and nobody outside of that sphere has taken notice. Thus, he wants to reevaluate his craft, but leave said friends and family with a parting gift.

The introduction to the album, entitled ‘We Are,’ seems to take inspiration from BK’s last studio effort, ‘Everything Is Changing But We Are Forever.’ BK alludes to some of his frustration within his current position in life, and how he wants to break out of it in the near future. There’s a bittersweet optimism at play here, something echoed by a rather atmospheric composition of synthesizers and soft, reverberated crooning.

‘Let It Play,’ a tune produced by Poter Elvinger, continues a theme that BK established on the previous track: this summer he’s aiming for something big. It’s a reassuring reminder, I think. I’d hate for BK to leave music. Songs like ‘Let It Play’ are statements that BK is just going on creative vacation. (It’s worth noting he also has a variety of other projects worth keeping tabs on this summer, including photography and game streaming.)

‘Who Am I?’ is a bit of an existential crisis. BK maneuvers through a minefield of self-doubt as he contemplates whether or not his friends and family are happy with the person he’s become. “I feel like a piece of me is missing,” BK says in an emotional bout of painful honesty. I’d argue that this track is probably relatable to a lot of people BK’s age as they attempt to decipher their lives in a meaningful way.

‘Summer Jam,’ produced by Alexander Lewis, is the most carefree effort on the EP. It’s refreshing, and again, a bit reassuring. Despite the internal strife of the tracks before it, ‘Summer Jam’ is still indicative of an artist who can make fun, feel-good tracks in the studio. ‘Family Issues/Truth Is’ is a deeply personal journey, however, and one that may also be relatable for listeners with complex family issues.

‘Say You Won’t,’ produced by Brasstracks, is arguably the most fantastic track on the album. Brasstrack’s production is exceptional, and the brass sections are reminiscent of the opening of Chance the Rapper’s recent release, ‘Coloring Book.’ The song is a defiant farewell - a goodbye from an artist that clearly intends to return stronger than ever.

I really dig BK’s music - that’s no secret. As a critic, I’ve found his music immensely refreshing since I was first introduced to it quite a while back. As a fan of hip hop, I’ve found his music truthful and authentic. I’m not in the sphere of BK’s friends or family. Thus, I hope he takes that into account when planning his creative efforts moving forward. There is an audience for what he’s doing, he just has to keep working at it.