There is this growing notion that humanity has already peaked. No matter where you look, this wistful yearning for the past seeps into everything we consume. Musicians reverting to releasing cassette tapes and vinyl to actually make money off of their music, Netflix structuring their output similarly to traditional linear television, or the two biggest movies of last year preying on pure nostalgia (Barbie and Super Mario Bros.). Hell, I just bought a PlayStation last week, because I’ve had that similar urge to return to a simpler time, pre-Internet. It’s not quite a mid-life crisis, but this desire to be away from social media, coupled with the threat of artificial intelligence, means we are a growing group of people in their thirties and forties disillusioned with the future, disconnected from the present, and disappearing into our pasts. I no longer have subscription services for television, and collect physical media instead, primarily because of decision paralysis. This overwhelming abundance of choice we now get bombarded with daily, whether it be every website now requiring the rigmarole of rejecting where our data gets sent to or hammering the ‘Skip Ads’ button on any app, game, or YouTube video. It’s too much. As most art is increasingly reduced to simple pieces of content, to be consumed rather than experienced (thanks to the modern business model of subscription over ownership), it’s easy to see why an emcee like King Kashmere was taken back to simpler times on his latest project “Sounds Like Home”.

Before you jump on your BMX and pedal away thinking this is just another throwback project, production here is decidedly modern, from fellow Londoner Cuth (of Adam and Cuth non-fame). Instead, we are treated to electronica influenced by retro tech, and an emcee reminiscing on their formative years minus the bias insisting simpler times were better. They were different, and important, with the notion that escaping to your past isn’t just the warm blanket one comforts when doubting the present or future, but one must understand to appreciate progress. It’s the whole “it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at” reconsidered through the power of music. Listening to Kashmere’s earlier work, it was much darker and grimier than his latest output, but he’s always had a knack for finding beats that possess a heft, lending his laidback approach to storytelling that bit of punch. The title track’s bass is a good example of this.

For those familiar with Kashmere, his schizophrenic trademarks as his voice slips into deep and/or high-pitched edits are retained, and he continues his nod to old video games on “Thick Bag of Slime”, citing 1989’s Golden Axe as an influence. Last year’s album included the excellent “Soul Calibur”, which I’m going to share the video of here because it’s another banger:

A brilliant YouTube channel chronicling the downfall of the British high street is evidence of how capitalism has helped strip towns of their community and their identity. Again, Hip-Hop often feels like it has lost some of both, and Kashmere captures this through a VHS camcorder on “Places”. It’s merely an interlude, with the emcee stating the beats from Cuth made him reminisce: “It’s not until I moved away that I realised I started to think about these things, and it became a bigger deal in my head. Or, maybe it’s because I’m getting old as fuck, who knows?”

Kashmere’s strengths lie in his unique flow, clever wordplay, and ability to paint vivid imagery with his lyrics. He often incorporates elements of science fiction and surrealism into his music, and “Sounds Like Home” is no different. It’s not quite as rewarding or fully formed as the excellent LP “The Album to End All Alien Abductions”, which is three times the length of this, but for many Brits, Kashmere’s voice sounds like home. “Door of Truth” blends dark imagery with purist rap sensibilities, itself sounding like a track from his cult classic “In The Hour of Chaos” – “kick in the door, waving the A4“. If it’s light-hearted or horrorcore, it’s always reliable, a safe pair of hands, and never feels fabricated. Pairing the grim reality of English inner-city concrete with colourful creativity, he has his style locked down, quintessentially traditional at its core, but hugely likable in a way few emcees can pull off.

King Kashmere :: Sounds Like Home
8Overall Score