Three years after his critically-lauded debut, San Francisco rapper-producer Kero One is back with another fresh jazz-hop album in Early Believers. But his recording absence brought more than just “another” record as this is clearly the mark of a maturing, secure, and confident artist. Oh, and a supremely talented one at that. It’s just unfortunate that across this solid sophomore effort his overly positive message becomes tiresome and preachy.
For example, a track like “This Life Ain’t Mine” should be a standout, particularly because of the layered, synth-driven production. But Kero drags it down on the mic by dropping a few lyrical duds. This issue isn’t exactly commonplace on here, but it’s enough to sometimes lessen the impact of Kero’s message. And, for the most part, his conversational flow is both endearing and wholesome as he spits personal tales and uplifting sermons.
But he still has some work to do. His inconsistent time in the booth is balanced by his lush and sunny production that remains stellar across the 12 tracks, two of which were handled by King Most. There is nary a time on here when you are left unsatisfied when it comes to the sunny West Coast-bred production. Though his jazz-tinged beats are perfect for any occasion, they seem most fitting for a dreary Monday morning. From the poppy, joyous “When the Sunshine Comes” to the dancefloor-ready instrumental “A Song for Sabrina”, you would be hard-pressed to find a better means of kicking off your week.
// Notes from the Road
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