Ados, a rising hip-hop star from Turkey, released his first proper commercial album Katarsis at the tail-end of 2012. A conscious effort to infuse a sturdy framework of robust beats with layers of tuneful harmonies, Katarsis also sees the rapper digging his way up to the open air of the mainstream from the underground where he toiled away for years, cultivating his own brand of indie aggro-hip-hop. Ados specializes in a kind of delivery that has him striking a curious balance between singing and rapping, flipping back and forth between vocal registers and riding a cool calm between a nuanced emotional cadence and a threatening swell of raging dramatics with an assured ease. It’s a defining feature that sets him apart from his contemporaries in Turkey’s underground hip-hop scene.
Used sparingly and judiciously, Eastern sounds are relegated to the background of the album, a backdrop of Turkish samples assembled in mosaic-fashion.
“It was my producer’s idea to mix the East and West sounds,” Ados says. “I really liked that idea and so we did it. People (in Turkey) were thinking that hip-hop is a foreign culture and that we were sidelined. The album was an answer to that. Our aim was to also show people who don’t know anything about our culture this mixture – introduce them to Eastern emotional sounds.”
On Ados’ most Western-sounding composition, “Kendin Hariç Her Şey” (“Everything Except Yourself”), rolling hip-hop beats keep a measured pace beneath the slow, winding, circular ascent of multi-tonic vocals. Enjoyably weird and faintly menacing, the rapper’s groove-gratifying number is an artful approach to reflecting back an urban American culture through a markedly Eastern perspective. With this track and the rest of Katarsis, Ados’ usual swagger and verbal face-slaps have been kept to a minimum.
“I was swagging when I started music,” he states. “But then I observed that it is harmful for our culture. Cursing or swagging on Turkish television or in the press is banned, at least unofficially. I mean that, if you curse you are regarded as non-educated trash. We are always being called punks. I wanted to demolish this thought by not using swag on the album. But then again, “street” is the most important thing in our hip-hop culture. So thats why in my normal day-to-day life, I am swagging as much as the next person.”
But, of course!