Words About Music
Ka “The Night’s Gambit”
To my knowledge, not much is known about the rapper that goes by Ka. We know he’s from New York, his real name is Kaseem Ryan, he’s about 40 years old, and “The Night’s Gambit” is his 3rd solo studio album. In the early 90s he formed a group called Natural Elements, but didn’t establish a solo career until 15 years later when he released his debut “Iron Works” and provided a guest verse on GZA’s “Pro Tools” album. Now, the mysterious rapper is back with a very eerie album that has gotten quite a bit of buzz for obvious reasons.
Let me be honest, at first listen, I didn’t really get this album at all. It just sounded like if MF DOOM rapped over some atmospheric beats. But throughout this album Ka proves to be more than just a DOOM soundalike. He’s also an extremely talented songwriter and, like DOOM, uses samples to add to the feeling of the album. One example is when he uses D’Angelo’s chess lesson from Season 1 of The Wire in his song “Peace Akhi.”
As fascinating as I found this album to be, there were never really any moments on it that particularly blew me away. I’m sure I’ll give it a few more listens before the year is out because it is a pretty good hip hop album and one of the most interesting ones of the year, it just reminds me too much of things I’ve already hear before. However, I do see its appeal. “The Night’s Gambit” is an incredibly dark and haunting hip hop album. It almost seems like something Ghostface Killah would do if he drank cough syrup and collaborated with Burial.
Overall, “The Night’s Gambit” is a slow burner, and it’s not for everyone. Some of you will love it and praise its lyricism, some of you will hate it for its seemingly boring non-beats, and others will hear a poor knockoff of “Mm.. Food.” Either way, it’s a respectable and odd album from one of hip hop’s most respectable and odd underground figures. It definitely has me interested in Ka though, and I hope to hear more from him soon.
SCORE – 7.6
FAVORITE TRACKS – You Know It’s About, Barring the Likeness, Soap Box (featuring Roc Marciano), Peace Akhi, Knighthood, I’m Ready