Impeccable emcees that take their craft seriously are often the result of regimented fitness routines. It makes sense – rapping is not a craft for any old slouch on the couch. Chino XL remains one of the sharpest lyricists and he’s built like Brock Lesnar in 2003. Busta Rhymes’ social media feed is more about his bodybuilding than his music and Freddie Foxxx is still “like Rakim with muscles”, having popped up on the latest Gang Starr album for the obligatory third verse. It’s one of the reasons Big Pun was such a remarkable one-off emcee – to be that size and impose yourself on the game with such a relentlessly lyrical style that requires pinpoint breath control, proved what a freak of nature he was.
Kamakaze didn’t necessarily go viral in 2016, but his JDZMedia Road Rage video was wildly popular in grime circles because his flow was incredibly refined and retained inventive wordplay. Kamakaze’s background lends itself to the physicality of spitting – he’s a professional soccer player by day. Granted, he’s not exactly in the eyes of billions like his Leicester City brethren are, week by week, but he’s getting paid in the lower leagues (currently in the fifth tier at Dagenham & Redbridge).
For a skinny, white man, his voice is distinctly deep and it lends his approach authority and a presence peers like Skepta and Giggs have built their brands around. What separates him from most rappers with a buzz is his natural delivery – the rhymes don’t feel forced or packed with filler like many rappity-rappers end up delivering. Kam’ has been steadily releasing singles throughout 2019 and after a couple of EPs, he put out his debut album “Facts Not Fiction” in April 2018.
Surprisingly, he hasn’t blown up like many thought he would. “No Days Off” has many of the elements of a hit grime single – picture it in Kano’s voice and it’s clear the star quality is there:
Hard work is a theme throughout and clearly a key part of how Kamakaze successfully pursues two professional careers. “Comeback Season” is both a response to anybody doubting his ambition as a rapper and those sneering at his footballing ventures.
The low-budget appeal of Kam’s Road Rage videos isn’t present on clean-cut, glossy tracks such as “Mighty Ducks” and the Autotune was certainly unexpected. Production comes courtesy of Z Dot and Krunchie, and it’s suitably bassy. but it doesn’t always work. The tracks with distinct melodies tend to blend better with Kam’s imposing baritone but what’s most jarring is how safe “Facts Not Fiction” feels. The first two tracks are explosive, catchy and show promise, but it ends up lost in a sea of forgettable beats, culminating in a underwhelming collaboration with Maverick Sabre.
Kamakaze clearly knows this, returning to JDZMedia with another strong performance in December 2018. He remains one of the UK’s most exciting emcees and if he can channel his energy on the raw production that matches his style, he’ll be the next big thing.