Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Square One by Kenn Starr

     Eight long years ago, the Portland Trailblazers drafted the Ohio State big man Greg Oden first overall in the 2007 NBA draft. Also in 2007, the third Spiderman movie starring Tobey Maguire was released to the public, and lastly, eight years ago I was 11 years old and didn't have the slightest clue, or care who Kenn Starr was. 

     Now it's 2015 and Greg Oden has developed into nothing more than a complete bust, two thirds of an entirely new Spiderman trilogy is complete, and I know exactly who Kenn Starr is. Not only do I know who he is, but I know that he just released his first album since his debut project eight years ago, so you bet your bottom dollar I care about who Kenn Starr is too! Now that I just made Kenn feel old, let's jump into the review of his brand new sophomore album, Square One.

     For starters, Kenn Starr is an extremely talented emcee, and he is sure to remind that to everyone all throughout Square One. Kenn also shows the hip-hop universe his versatility as a rhymer, because not only can he lure listeners in with his soft and silky smooth flow, but he has some really clever and educated lines that just may get overlooked the first time a track is played. Kenn is definitely a lyricist, and on this album, quite a few of the tracks are relatable to just about everyone under the sun. Take the track "The Definition" for example, this song is simply about defining the relationship with a woman, and he tells a very interesting and engaging story between the hooks hummed by Melanie Rutherford.

     Yes it's true,  Kenn Starr is fully-equipped with an above-average emcee skill set, but he also is jam-packed with a certain trait that other artists either have, or don't have; charisma. While listening to Square One, one can't help but get the feeling that Kenn Starr has to be one awesome ass dude. The music on this album is just so cool, so original, and so entertaining that its aura of being Kenn's first project in eight years elevates this album to another level alone! 

     No this album doesn't have that cult classic track that speaks to our generation, and no Kenn doesn't spend the entire album explaining where he's been, he simply made this record as if he were back to...square one, and the approach of simply making a good, solid album was genius and much appreciated. 

     It wouldn't be a complete review of the vocal content if I didn't touch on the many artists featured on this project. With that, listeners will hear some appearances from one of the best rappers around, yU, North Carolina native Supastition, Sean Born, Boog Brown and a few others. All of the features are really well integrated to the album, as all featured artists have a solo sound similar to Kenn Starr's, so the combination of flavors definitely worked out well.

     If ever you decide to make a hip-hop album, then wait more than half a decade to release the follow up project, just do what Kenn Starr did on Square One and enlist Kev Brown and Black Milk to handle the bulk of the production, and maybe have a couple more tracks produced by 14KT and Roddy Rod. That should do the trick when it comes to building buzz.

     There's a reason all of the previously mentioned producers are so highly regarded in the indie hip-hop community; because they're all really freaking good. The production on Square One has that good ole sample heavy, boom-bap sound that has a some jazz, blues, and rhythm thrown into the mix. Not only are all of the beats so smooth and serene, but they're also all very cohesive and sound great together. The beats are the backbone to this project, and no disrespect to Kenn Starr, but surely an instrumental version of Square One would do fairly decent on the charts. 

     The best beat on the track can be found on the track "The Movement II" which is produced by Kev Brown. This was one of the singles released prior to the album, and there really isn't a single thing wrong with this track, not on the production or vocal side. This beat has a head-nod inducing drum kick, and a what seems to be the perfectly placed horn sample. Just listen to it, simple as that.

     The production is great and the vocal work is strong. Square One is not a project that should be separated, and by that I merely mean that this album should be played in its entirety, from start to finish. This is a great collection of tracks, and an awesome way for Kenn Starr to make his valiant return to the hip-hop industry. Square One by Kenn Starr...check it out ASAP!


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