Kevin Elijah Burgess is a young man hailing from St. Petersburg, Florida
who has been actively recording and releasing music dating back to 2010.
Perhaps owing to the fact St. Pete is often called "The Sunshine City," KB
has a very sunny and positive disposition. It could ALSO be because
KB is a Christian hip-hop artist, not the least bit shy about making that
known, and in fact was given the "Rap Song of the Year" at the
2014 Dove Awards.
Don't worry - before this review I hadn't heard of the Dove Awards either.
To oversimplify the matter let's just say they're the Gospel Music
Association equivalent of a Grammy Award.
That kind of exposure is usually what launches a seminal/underground artist
into the mainstream, regardless of genre of Christian music they are from, and
KB proves to be no exception with the 2015
album "Tomorrow We Live."
He quickly charted with the single "Sideways" featuring fellow Christian
rap artist Lecrae, another rapper
who successfully crossed over from the Bible circuit to more mainstream
recognition. Were it not for the fact you just read two paragraphs talking
about his Godly ways and GMA trophies, you could listen to "Sideways"
and not really be aware of the spiritual background for either one.
Cobra's beat gives both K and 'Crae the sound of a charting Southern rapper
of the present day - somebody like Future or Migos - but
there's no intentional subterfuge here from either rapper. Lecrae lets you
know exactly what they're on when he raps "If I say Jesus everybody start
bookin/Get out the kitchen when I'm cookin." Cobra proves himself a versatile
producer though, not just a man brought in to score KB a crossover hit. His
track for "Always & Forever" sounds more like a 1980's Michael Jackson
throwback from Quincy than today's heavy thumping hip-hop.
The diversity of the soundscape keeps KB consistently interesting and prevents
the religious overtones from getting too preachy or heavy. Supe's "Cruising"
is perfectly suited to the track's title, and even more perfectly suited to
the top-down "two miles an hour so everyone can see you" time of the year we're
entering into. Dirty Rice and Joseph Prielozny redefine Southern swag with
their track for "Drowning" as KB lays down a smooth mixture of rapping and
crooning. Lyrics like "Save me from me 'fore I drown" have the obvious Christian
component you'd expect from gospel rap, but KB avoids the trap of mentioning
God and Jesus in every other bar, and will reach a lot more people than those
who are turned off by rappers who are heavy-handedly pious. Songs like "Calling
You" are even more harrowing than the scariest horror movie. Still you'd have to be
completely oblivious to miss the implications of songs like the 808xElite
and Gawvi produced "Crowns & Thorns (Oceans)."
The unapologetically modern sound of heavy thumping tracks like "I'ma Just
Do It" will be what truly gathers the converts, along with a natural air of
confidence that's eerily reminiscent of artists like
Kanye West. It's borderline cocky.
It might even rub a few people the wrong way. If he weren't a spiritual
rapper somebody would mistake him for arrogant, and that's necessary if you're
going to get Christian rap into the secular world. You can't come into the
game apologetic for taking up a hard drinking, chain swangin' rapper's space
with your spiritual verse - you have to elbow your way into the spotlight.
The bold and assertive KB does that on "Tomorrow We Live" and has earned
at least one convert - me.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10