In today’s music economy, singles and EP’s saturate the airwaves, having become the most common vehicle for artists to express themselves. Especially for newer artists, it's become much more common to blow up off of a hot single, and use that momentum to propel yourself to stardom. Thanks to this new formula, it’s become easy for meaningful pieces of art to get caught up in the cash-grab tracks that are meant to purely run up streams. New York Artist Kool Kio is looking to change that with his latest project, “PURE,” a 10-track, 27-minute concept album.
Encompassing several different sounds, the sonic journey begins with “222munyun,” an intro track that starts off smooth with a laid-back trap beat. Strings and sounds of nature fill the air before it makes a hard switch into a hyperpop-type beat that is almost reminiscent of something that you would hear Yeat over. It’s in this first track that the motivations of the narrator become clear. He’s trying to upgrade his lifestyle but also doesn’t want to tie himself down just yet. With money being his main focus, that eventually changes as we go into the second track, “happy wife, happy life.” At this point in the story, he’s already in a relationship. However, he’s beginning to realize that it takes a whole of work to maintain one. Aiming to please, he refers to the age-old adage, “happy wife, happy life,” as a tentpole for how to go about the situation. The track itself starts off with a distorted loop of piano keys, with some hi-hats that keep the pulse of the rhythm. Soft and deep 808s enter the fold underneath his auto-tuned crooning, giving the track some nice texture to it.
The third track brings the first vocal feature (“222munyun” credits producer Kischon as a feature) in the form of Rising Brooklyn Star, BreezyLYN. The first two-thirds of the track “having her way,” finds Kool Kio fawning over the girl in question, as he finds ways to give her what she wants. BreezyLYN’s appearance is a welcome addition, which also allows her to showcase her versatility. She starts off singing softly, with some nice harmonizing vocal effects that help fill out the depth of the track. She then shifts to rapping and finishes her verse as such. Her feature on the track is probably one of my favorite appearances from her, and I’m very excited to see if she dabbles into the singing route as her career progresses. This transitions nicely into “bags on bags,” where the theme of luxury takes center stage. Starting off with some icy flutes, bass drums shortly follow suit, giving an uptempo soft trap vibe to this track.
Moving on to “Forever My Bitch”, the story continues, but the beats have begun to involve a bit of a darker atmosphere with the choice of musical elements that are here. The hi-hats have become more frequent, while the 808’s are more pronounced, making it feel as though the vibe has switched up. Now they’re in LA, where he continues to buy her everything she wants, cementing to her that he’s different from anyone else she’s been with before. It’s got a catchy, albeit elongated hook, and an infectious drum pattern that you can’t help but bob along to. “Faith’s interlude,” the 6th track now, is the closest that Kool Kio comes to an R&B track on this project, as well as the last time that he embodies that genre. Up to this point, it had been a lot of Trap&B. With lush pianos and a distorted vocal sample, the lyrics make it seem as though the narrator and his love are no longer together, and this melancholy track is him reflecting on that. Despite its softer nature, this is probably my favorite track off the project, as Kool Kio’s melodic tendencies feed well off of the beat.
Things get toxic and dark from here on out, starting with the seventh track, “like Pluto.” Likening himself to Future via the title, Kool Kio steps into his Trap bag even further than he already had. At this point in the story, it seems as though the narrator is no longer with his girl, and he’s taken a turn that could very well be for the worse. With lyrics embodying the toxicity that Future is so well known for, the comparison is quite fitting. He continues this descent into darkness with Rose Gold, which is my second favorite track on the project. It plunges us deeper into the trap-osphere with its heavy 808s and intense lyrics, where Kool Kio delves into the gritty world of drilling and confronting his rivals. It's his most braggadocious offering, hinting at a sense of hurt after the events of the previous track. As he continues trapping and hustling to secure his financial stability, the track exudes a vibe that could easily make it a club anthem, where even strippers might be compelled to shake their assets to the beat.
“Pisces in Me”, the penultimate track showcases his fastest flow yet, as he grapples with life's challenges by turning to smoking and staying constantly occupied. However, these coping mechanisms begin to take a heavy toll on him, and the track provides a poignant reflection on the price of such escapism. The closing track, “By the Hour” takes a different narrative turn, portraying Kool Kio reaching out to a girl he hasn't communicated with in a while. He puts in earnest efforts to provide for her as best as he can, a commitment underscored by the fact that he's cut ties with his past relationships in a bid to rebuild their connection. Despite the challenges and expectations, he's determined to work things out, making 'By the Hour' a touching conclusion to the project that highlights Kool Kio's lyrical depth and his journey through relationships and self-discovery.
Kool Kio has managed to craft a complete narrative journey across the 10 tracks on this tape, creating a concept project that stands out from most new music I’ve heard. If you’re not already tapped in with him, then what are you waiting for?
Rating: 4/5 Stars