Album: The Experience
Label: Pepa Records
Rating: 8 / 10
Who is Kyza you may ask yourself, and why should you spend your hard earned cash on his record? A valid question, when for the first time in years, the UK scene is almost overflowing with myriad MCs and full length releases. Well, for one, he €™s part of heavyweight crew Terra Firma : or should I say he was part of heavyweight crew Terra Firma, because, in a bizarre series of events, since releasing this album and appearing on a further collaborative mix tape album (“The Foundation”) with his boys Klashnekoff and Skriblah, Kyza €™s announced that he €™s left the group.
The story surrounding this surprising move is still somewhat shrouded in mystery, but after one listen of his debut “The Experience”, you can €™t help but feel that maybe it wasn €™t such a bad move. Furthermore, you €™ll notice that unlike so many group MCs, Kyza can more than hold down a full length album by himself, without you wishing his former partners in rhyme would drop in once in a while to drop a verse and break things up. Rap history is littered with such cases; even members of the mighty Wu-Tang Clan have styles that can be just too thick on their own for listeners to handle. Not so Kyza though, who spits through twelve of the album €™s fourteen tracks by himself; refreshing again in a time where albums are sold more on their collaborations and guest spots rather than their supposedly featured artist. The main reason Kyza is able to make this transition into a solo artist so easily is the sheer variety with which he rhymes across the album. You €™ll soon notice his ability to adjust his cadence, vocal tone and even speed, without ever sounding out of time or divorced from the production, a shortfall many successful stars suffer from.
Kyza €™s double-time flow, demonstrated on lead single ‘Fight Klub’, is reminiscent of many British grime artists, but unlike so many of these rappers, he combines style with substance, making each lyric just as vital as the flow and beat. Over a stuttering two-step banger from Chemo, Kyza establishes himself as an individual early on “The Experience”, sounding off about fake champagne-swigging MCs, whose posturing and attitude are stealing focus away from the music. This is an ongoing theme throughout the album, and a stereotype from which Kyza is eager to disassociate himself. His intent is signalled within thirty seconds of starting the album, using an interview sample from Jay-Z who states that “for everything to be perfect, everybody €™s gotta be focused :on one thing,” and that €™s the music.
This is continued across perhaps the album €™s highlight, ‘Real’, which comes in two parts over a heavy bass-driven beat. Kyza €™s flow demands your attention and on ‘Real (Part 1)’ he delivers: “Don €™t ask me what manor I €™m from / ends / or what city I rep / I rep me and that €™s the truth :I love my music.” On ‘Part 2’, in perhaps the album €™s best verse, he then speaks on the number of wannabe thugs injecting unneeded violence into the scene and nearly ruining it: “Nuff man gon be mad at me now / whatever / go change your sanitary towel / instead of bragging about, how you shot crack / rolling with thieves and crooks / stop that / do something else / read some books / get a gal / go on a date and get laid / then you won €™t be such a vexed breh / talking bout how your tech spray/ that €™s long / plus I don €™t believe you / get fucked in the hole you bleed through.”
While there €™s no terrible material on the album, there are several songs that don €™t quite stand up to the high standards set by the rest of the album. ‘Hype Is Real’ is a DJ Caramac produced reggae-tinged club tune, which just feels a little lightweight and ends up being utterly forgettable. ‘Snakes ‘n’ Blaggers’, speaking on shady, backstabbing friends, backed with a forgettable Touch Tone beat, again seems a little uninspired and brings very little originality to a fairly well-worn subject matter. Finally, ‘Sick’, despite its dope soaring strings and rumbling bass line, suffers from a lack of real subject matter, and given the rapid fire staccato flow, is destined to be remembered just as ‘Fight Klub’ Part 2.
Alongside ‘Real’ though, we find several other real standout tracks that solidify Kyza €™s destined status amongst contemporary UK hip-hop €™s elite. A lot of pre-release hype was rightly focused on ‘Lucozade Bottles’, as Kyza offers an affectionate nostalgic look back at his youth, reminiscing about Pat Sharp, Mario Brothers, cheap Madhouse trousers and old pirate radio stations over an understated D €™Lux beat. Anyone from the UK who grew up in the 90s will enjoy the name checks and Kyza sums this feeling up with the final smirking line “come on man, it isn €™t just me who remembers all this!”
Next, on ‘Bitter Sweet Love’, the single €™s B-Side, we find Kyza in smooth mode, speaking to the ladies over D €™Lux €™s snaring two-step drums and subtle guitar licks. In what is seemingly an album requirement, he chronicles a failed relationship, but in his own unique way, offering a catchy potential crossover hit.
Finally, a personal favourite is ‘Porno’ which as the title suggests, sees Kyza getting more than a little X-Rated over a polished DJ Premier-esque banger from Caramac. The lyrical content is truly for mature audiences only and is genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious, showing that Kyza €™s clearly enjoying himself. Grounded in reality too, the tales he tells are recognisable and affectionate, with his personality shining through once again : “That was fun / lets do it again / now I €™ve gotta rush off / grab your stuff, buff / I €™ll walk you to the bus stop.”
It is this personality that lifts Kyza up above his contemporaries, and rather than revelling in the studio gangster image which is prevalent throughout the UK hip-hop, he defiantly shuns it in an attempt to divorce the scene from this mythology. He concentrates on the music and seems determined to have fun with it, showing a sense of humour so often lacking in rap music generally. Furthermore, it €™s clear that Kyza is a real three-dimensional human being, with faults and regrets, as shown on ‘Born Loser’ and the concluding ‘Shoutro.’ The level of maturity and introspection on the album €™s ‘Intro’ may surprise many listeners but it €™s certainly a good thing in the British music scene; maybe it is time those in the industry “got serious :(and) put the playstation pad and weed down.”