Saturday, December 18th, 2021

Ka – I Notice

Time to pay attention…


Nortey Dowuona: Who you know been good this long? The loping, lithe bass prowls inform of the chittering percussion cubs as Ka patiently strolls forward, his people around his shoulders.

Ian Mathers: Stress rap as tension headache, the production pulsing and crackling and fraying, keeping the title hook for the last minute and then just repeating it without ever going back to bars. The Nina Simone quote at the end feels both appropriate and earned, which is a pretty high bar to clear.

Alfred Soto: Kaseem Ryan savors his lines, mulls them over, as if commanded by commas and semicolons. His approach is rarely lulling. Opaque in sound but as clear as a thesis paragraph, “I Notice” depends on the tension between Ka’s story, the horror movie organ, and a disembodied cry. 

Iain Mew: “I Notice” sounds like a thousand unidentifiable footsteps in the dark and accompanying drawn strings. And over that Ka delivers everything like a vital instruction that he must keep as calm and flat as possible for his own sake as much as yours. The tension increases; he moves further into closer and closer repetition as the walls close in. The spoken sample at the end is a lovely flip into both acceptance and making the stakes even clearer. 

Katie Gill: There’s a YouTube video where a YouTuber grapples with his feelings related to spoken word, music, and the rap genre. I’m not going to link it here because honestly, I don’t think he does a good job articulating his point, but that played in the back of my mind the moment I finished this song. There’s no doubt that Ka is an amazing lyricist. The images and the wordplay in “I Notice” are absolutely sublime. It’s one of those works where you want to look up the lyrics afterwards just to dissect everything. But it’s also one of those works that I’m not entirely sure is a song. There’s definitely a line between rap music and a spoken word performance and “I Notice” dances right on the edge of it. A part of me can’t help but wonder if the piece would be improved by removing that droning backing track and letting the words stand on their own.

Oliver Maier: Ka is a rapper who I tend to respect more than I enjoy, and this isn’t an exception. His cadence and conspiratorial tone makes him sound a bit like a humourless MF DOOM, and the cleverness of his rhymes is not really enough to stop this feeling devoid of energy.

Samson Savill de Jong: The concept of music not being “for people” is a slightly odd one. It’s sort of outrageously obvious that Ka makes music that isn’t “for everyone”, if for no other reason than the fact that nobody else makes music like this. But I listen to this, and I don’t really understand how you can’t see that this is just utter quality, or how anybody would fail to be drawn in. The beat is minimal but haunting, and serves as an excellent platform for the star of the show: Ka’s lyrics and voice. Every line he says has about three layers (“they got us under a microscope to make sure we see cells”!!!!!), and they are intricate while still being meaningful. His voice may be monotone on first listen, but like Captain Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine you quickly realise there’s an absolute tonne of depth and emotion to it, and it’s utterly unique in rap. Nothing sounds like this — in part because it’s “not for everyone” — but this is unique and is music of the highest quality, so I hope it’s for you.

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