Google+ Q Dot: AKA - I Thought You Knew (review)

Monday, November 26, 2012

AKA - I Thought You Knew (review)

AKA – EP review

If I could get that little gadget Will Smith used in Men in Black to erase people’s memories and replace it with a new one I’d find it pretty fuckin’ handy right about now. Why? Because whatever you thought you knew about AKA before “I Thought You Knew” deserves to be completely erased. This new EP is leaps, bounds, hops, skips and jumps ahead of anything previously released by the big fella and that’s not just me gassing the dude up cause I know him personally. In my professional opinion this project is the real coming out for AKA. It’s a solidly stacked yet short and sweet EP which does two things that work to AKA’s favor. 1) It keeps the vibe consistent and 2) gives very little room for repetition of sounds and topics that haunted the previous joints he put out. Not that it was a bad thing but the duration actually has you wanting to hear more as a listener.

The question I kept asking myself when listening to the tape is what is it that’s so different this time around? He’s still the same AKA – an honest, self-proclaimed working class artist who likes to talk about chicks and his own life in a very everyday man tone. I think the big thing is with “I Thought You Knew”, he seems to have found his sound and because of it he sounds more in the pocket with the tracks, more confident with the rhymes he spits and therefore more authentic overall. There’s no sense of reaching, just strait up AKA.

A lot of credit in this goes to AKA employing the production and engineering services of Carl Roe who has seemingly shot out of nowhere and into the conversation of the local hip hop scene in recent history.  He applied the spit shine and polish that gives the EP the best presentation AKA has had to date. I can say this with first hand knowledge after a short stint in Roe’s studio with AKA working on Groupies (produced by Dyme Def soundsmith Brainstorm). Roe was the Phil Jackson Zen master behind the board coaching, pushing and pulling AKA in the booth to get that in-the-pocket sound. That my friends is ol’ school production, that good ol’ hands on approach to making it happen, take notes.

There really is no “standout” track on the song and that is a good thing. All the songs are of a high level and nothing really outshines anything else. It really is the best foot forward each track through. It is worth noting though, “Dream Big”, another Brainstorm produced joint, has an accompanying video shot by another dope MC in the town Produktive which is again another really good step forward. It’s a good solid video with little in the way of a theme or storyline which again serves AKA for the positive. There’s no corny acting, no amateur level storyline to try and follow. It’s just AKA in the camera with a few cohorts vibin out at the EMP.

AKA deserves a listen from you this time around if you’re a supporter of independent hip hop. Is it YOUR cup of tea? Eh, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. That’s for you to decide but you surely will find some level of satisfaction throughout it and a guy who’s worked as hard as he has to improve his craft in every way is always worthy of a good solid listen and online look up. On the flipside, if I’m listening as a fan and not some “professional” blah blah whatever, there is something to be desired on “I Thought You Knew”. I honestly can’t put my finger on what it is exactly but there’s something… And while everything sounds great and the songs are well put together I think AKA needs that ONE song that joint that really resonates with who he’s trying to reach. Maybe on this tape it is “Dream Big”, I dunno. Either way, big ups to the homey. You upgraded your sound, you upgraded your rhymes, you upgraded your package and for that I give an A for effort. I have had an incredibly hard time giving it an overall grade.
4 out 5 feels a little too high yet a 3 or 3 ½ feels too low.

Just go out and support it and come up with your own score!