Rating: 0.5 // 10
Genres: Trap-Rap, Pop-Rap, UK Hip-Hop
Released: 22/05/2020, RBC Records
KSI’s debut LP fails to nail down a specific style and voice for the youtuber-turned-boxer-turned-rapper, relying heavily on big name features and autotune in an attempt to spice up a bland offering.
After testing the waters with the relatively tongue in cheek Lamborghini in 2015, KSI has slowly delved deeper and deeper into the world of hip-hop, steadily releasing singles and projects over the past three years.
Whilst the quality of his music has improved over the years, most notably his flow, his debut full length project doesn’t quite see him make a proper mark on the industry. Despite connections to the UK scene via JME, KSI instead opts for a more American style trap-beat throughout this project, leading to some instantly forgettable tracks.
The opening tracks, What You Been On and Cap feature some basic, standard trap beats that could come from any producer, and be on anyone’s album. KSI’s lyrics as well come off as run of the mill, standard bragging about the same things every other rapper has.
The only discernible difference between the two tracks is the feature of Offset on Cap – the first big name on this album.
However, as you might have predicted, the Migos member dominates the track, and even when KSI lays down some decent flows, it is mangled with a jarring autotune that doesn’t really benefit either of the tracks.
Poppin’, the second released single, continues the trap-beat streak, but in its defence, it has a higher energy and bounciness to it. With Lil Pump‘s cringe-worthy lyrics about corona on his wrist and ebola on his neck diminishing any chance of this song being a serious number, it is one of the stronger efforts on the album.
Lil Pump and Smokepurpp have collaborated numerous times in the past, so their chemistry on the track is a lot tighter than with KSI, but he doesn’t stick out too much, and the bars are split fairly evenly between the three.
Released and hyped up as a “UK Banger“ when dropped, the third single, Houdini, sees KSI take on an afro-swing beat, and it fits him so much better than any other style. Although his Jamaican patois start to his bar is an eyebrow raising choice, he quickly drops it, meaning he can show off a voice that isn’t half bad and fits the vibe of the genre.
The two features from Tion Wayne (drops his own verse) and Swarmz (chorus) again fit very well, and it is well paced and ends before it gets anywhere near boring.
For me, this is a sound I think KSI could make a mark in, and alongside the similarly afro-swing styled Killa Killa, are the high points of the album.
Despite the change in genres, we immediately return to lazy trap beats and autotune heavy bars, this time with a very Juice WRLD-esque, emo-rap inspired track called Bad Lil Vibe.
Again KSI relies heavily on the ability of his featured guest, Jeremih, who’s singing led choruses really carry the track. Despite the title, style and vibe of the song, the lyrics are so generic and show no real depth.
This continues onto How It Feel, with another stale, forgettable trap beat and awful autotune crooning from KSI. Rather than layer unnecessary autotune on his rapping, he decided to commit to trying to salvage his singing voice, leading to a painful two minutes.
However, after the low point of the album, the track listing certainly strengthens towards the tail end of the album.
Wake Up Call, another single, breaks up the trap-rap monotony – slightly. A lot more pop-based, the hook and chorus are more memorable than other tracks, but again it relies on the performance of Trippie Redd to carry KSI over the line.
As mentioned above, Killa Killa is one of my favourite songs from this project, incorporating aspects of drill, grime and afro-swing to create an up-beat, fun track.
The repetitive chorus from Aiyana-Lee again dominates, but this is one of the few tracks that KSI goes toe-to-toe with his featured artist. However, the overkill of autotuned adlibs detracts from the experience as a whole, but as I said before, this is an enjoyable track.
Continuing a strong finish to the album, Domain, whilst trap based, draws influences from grime and drill to produce the best KSI only track on the album.
The lyrics, whilst in the same lane as pretty much every other song on the album, are a bit more harder hitting, the flow is the best yet from KSI, and the awe inspiring organ synths throughout are wonderful.
Down Like That, the first single from way back in 2019, is well placed, and continues the strongest portion of the album.
Although again dominated by the features – three on this track, with S-X on the chorus, and Lil Baby and Rick Ross with their own bars – KSI gets in first, dishing some clever bars about knocking down his opponent. Ross and Lil Baby deliver some strong efforts as well, producing a more pop-rap based hit.
Unfortunately, it isn’t a flawless end to the album, as Undefeated returns to the same basic trap rap, and you guessed it, overuse of autotune.
However, the final track of Millions finally sees a different topic for the lyrics, and it certainly is the most emotional track.
After the whirlwind year KSI has had, it is a shame he isn’t as self-reflective throughout, but his lyrics about his deteriorated relationship with his brother, and hidden relationship with his girlfriend give us the most interesting lyrical content of the project.
All in all, there is potential here. When KSI moves away from the trap beats and autotune, he can showcase his decent flow, unique delivery, and actual talent.
However, the lack of a coherent theme throughout, the lack of ambition beyond slapping big names all over it, and being overshadowed so many times by those guest artists mean this isn’t an amazing project.
- What You Been On (C-)
- Cap (C)
- Poppin’ (C+)
- Houdini (B+)
- Bad Lil Vibe (C)
- How It Feel (D)
- Wake Up Call (C+)
- Killa Killa (B-)
- Domain (B-)
- Down Like That (B-)
- Undefeated (D)
- Millions (C-)