Released jointly with “Languish Arts”, Brownsville emcee Ka continues the tongue-in-cheek education theme with “Woeful Studies.” Combined, they seem to form an overall concept album. With “Woeful” and “Languish” being used in the album titles and loosely combined with an education motif, that concept certainly evokes feelings of depression and unhappiness. Like its sister album, “Woeful Studies” is also a ten-track meditation consisting mostly of Ka’s minimalist sampled loops and skeletal production, as well as his laconic delivery laced with clever bars. Of the ten tracks, Ka gives up the reigns of production on two of them to let Animoss flex his musical muscles.
Lyrically, much of what Ka raps about is his experiences and the environment he grew up in, sans aggression and punchlines. The violins and guitar riffs he often samples and loops are reminiscent of Seattle grunge music in the sense that they reflect Ka’s angst-ridden lyrics. His introspective rhymes begin on “We Ain’t Innocent”, a study on the mentality which poverty breeds. He flips the title to “we ain’t into cents, we into dollars” over the pensive beat. Animoss quickly makes his first appearance on “We Hurting” with its lyrical message of reciprocity. Animoss’s beat is murky, but has drum snares, is layered, and shows Ka a challenge to tailor his flow over outside production. As much as I’ve criticized Ka’s production for being too bland, it sometimes has some golden sonic nuggets released. On “I’m Tired”, he makes use of a striking banjo guitar pluck and languid horns to convey his aggravation with being of underdog status.
“Obstacles”, he boasts ‘lack of possessions made me possessive / As far as talking about the words, I may be the best’, and the acknowledgement that there are some things he’ll never get over. Next up on “Reap”, Ka’s production is more jazzier than bluesy and depressing. Lyrically, he uses garden metaphors to show that when hatred is all that’s planted, then it inevitably will grow. Chuck Strangers provides a mic assist on “Counted Out”, the second Animoss production. Strangers’ flow and voice remind me of a slurry Conway the Machine, but it complements Ka’s own subdued flow. “Eat” is actually the longest track on the album and is summed up by the vocal sample at the end: ‘Knock that shit off! Let’s talk about…how to make some money!’
The album’s last three tracks begin with “The Block”, on which he raps, ‘I’m the home to many demons, they like to trip / The weak eat they heart out, I never bite my lip.’ The penultimate track, “Building”, consists of dark piano keys with an even darker string loop layered on top of it. “My Only Home” closes out the album and Ka lyrically examines how much his environment disgusts him, and yet it’s the place he calls home. Much like “Languish Arts”, it’s the production that stands out. It’s a cup of tea which certainly isn’t for everyone’s palate and frankly, Ka should get Animoss behind the boards for most of his beats. While him making use of sampled loops into somber rhythms is an artistic DIY choice, such a stripped down style is too mediocre for a rapper of Ka’s caliber.