Adding an R&B flavour to Nerdcore Hip-Hop, Kadesh Flow exhibits great potential.
Kansas City rapper, producer and, importantly, trombonist (It’s in his bio) shows the potential to be as big in the nerd rap game as Dr Awkward, and that comparison isn’t plucked out of thin air. Both possess a flow with an edge and incorporate an element of R&B into their music, something that’s often lacking in the nerdcore scene.
‘desh’s (he refers to himself as ‘Desh’ with frequency) most recent album Gateways dropped in early October and finds the rapper on fine form delivering his recognisable vocals over 15 tracks that, musically, vary moderately in style throughout its duration forming a cohesive body of work.
The catchy opener Defining The Sublime is a good advert for what to expect from the rest of the release. There’s a rasp to ‘desh’s flow as he spits his lyrics at a pace on verses with a slower, sing-along chorus. Second track She’s Leaving is a perfect example of a rap song you’d be more likely to find on an album by a rapper with aspirations of tapping into a mainstream sound rather than much of the Nerdcore we’re used to hearing. It’s a theme that perseveres throughout the rest of the release too, not because Kadesh Flow is adhering to modern rap cliches, far from it, this is rap music with occasional nerd references rather than a nerdcore hip-hop album with occasional influences of radio-friendly rap. Just listen to track three Hunger featuring A2z for further evidence.
The R&B influence becomes prominent in the chorus of Broke where ‘desh displays a strong singing style to break up the strong delivery on the verses. Treat It Like A Game is a track that really reminds me of Dr Awkward in the style of the music and the ferocity of the vocal delivery, they don’t actually sound alike but there are similarities. If you’re looking for a rousing track for that montage moment when you’re about to achieve that previously allusive goal then BYOB (Break Your Own Boundaries) will most likely fulfill that desire thanks in no small part to it’s uplifting chorus.
An album highlight in terms of relentless, solid vocals comes on the Samurai Jack influenced track You Don’t Know Jack. A calm track musically is punctuated with crisp beats and ‘desh on top form delivering lyrics at speed whilst a simple but catchy chorus sets the song off raising it up as the standout track this far. There aren’t a bucket load of guest vocals on this album which, in some respects, is quite refreshing given the trend in nerdcore at present to cram in as many friends as possible. One of only three guests appears on Reflections on which JFKratez lends his talents.
Where Treat It Like A Game put me in mind of Doc Awk, the subdued Nobody Will reminds me of another anime rapper, Richie Branson, someone Kadesh Flow has worked with in the past. It’s a good opportunity at this point in the release to appreciate the writing on Gateways. Heart felt, unpretentious and genuine as well as cleverly composed.
Far more abrasive is Like Whoa. As with much of the album the track is composed of strings and subtle keys with a sense of urgency coming from the drums and intricate lyrical delivery. ‘desh let’s rip on this track which is a self referential, cocky track where the rapper flaunts a certain amount of swagger. A different prospect in terms of pace is Nothing’s Promised, still there’s a venom to the vocals on the verses juxtaposed with a gentler sung chorus.
Another standout is the anthemic I’m A Hero, a musically more interesting track. Kadesh Flow relies heavily on his vocals as the focal point for his music, and whilst this track follows that principle too the difference is that the music ramps up slightly by introducing interesting melodies that are missing in many of the other tracks where the music forms a fairly unimposing canvass over which the vocalist paints a picture. There’s more evidence of an R&B influence in the chorus of Over 9000 with a laid back groove underlining the abundant vocals in the verses.
Sometimes collaborator with Random aka Mega Ran, Mr Wilson, is the final guest on penultimate track Bars For Days, equally fitting with the rest of the album but somehow less remarkable. The album concludes with The Troll a play on the aforementioned rap cliches.
Gateways then is a strong, solid album then, but not without it’s flaws. Whilst an incredibly competent vocalist, especially when flowing at speed there are moments in the transitions where the vocals float ever so slightly out of time. It’s not particularly prominent but something that’s bugged me each time I’ve listened through. That one criticism aside and although I’m not particularly a fan of mainstream rap or the influences of R&B this is a great records to have in your collection. Kadesh Flow certainly shows that he has the potential to really establish himself as a major player in the nerdcore scene if he’s willing to invest the time and effort to make it so.
Gateways is available to download now from Kadesh Flow’s bandcamp page as a name your price release.