It’s safe to say that Twin Cities-based Hip-Hop Artist KPW is one of the most prolific creators of music in the rich scene of Underground Hip-Hop from Minnesota. Never hesitating to follow up with project after project full of depth and knowledge, his latest offering is no different. “8 7EVEN FIVE; LACONIC” is the lyricist’s 3rd solo EP, and is self described as a collection of “Narratives and Perspectives”, where he shares a couple of stories, and songs about his outlook on various topics such as spirituality, inner understanding and the social climate.
The EP opens with the “Laconic Opening”. Just like all of his prior projects, KPW has self-produced all of the records, and takes a cinematic approach to set the tone for the content and music. On this intro, KPW speaks on being an eccentric creator who often delves outside the norm in his brand of hip-hop, music and even the way he titles his songs and albums. After all, you’ve likely never even heard of the word “Laconic” until this project. I know I hadn’t. But unlike the true definition of the word, KPW is anything but brief or non-concise in his lyricism. \
“VOTS” features frequent collaborator Kamaal. “The devil’s trying things; murk him where he lurks.” KPW repeats this in the chorus of this record, as he and Kamaal speak on the duality of human beings, religion and the evolution of the craft – the current conversation of the new school vs. the old school, and the place the legends hold in the hearts of the generations past and present. Is it fair that the youngins don’t respect the pioneers? KPW doesn’t think so, but does understand it’s due to youthful ignorance and intergenerational misunderstanding.
“Kinfolk” is the next record on the 6-song EP. This time, KPW taps the refreshing lyricism of Vinny Crook$. KPW describes how his upbringing and family life set the foundations for his moral compass and ethics as an adult. It’s very prevalent that knowledge and enlightenment is very high on KPW’s list of things that is important to him, and it’s certainly reflected throughout out his content. After a dramatic transition in production in the middle of the song, Vinny Crook$ arrives with an aggressive verse contrasting braggadocio with his story of a humble upbringing within his family construct, but always striving to excel further than what was expected of him by society.
“Notion” is a multi-faceted narrative narrative full of twists and turns. What seems to be the clear story from the beginning of the track becomes different once the song concludes. It’s definitely one you have to give a few listens to, or you might missa few things. KPW is one of the most-skilled artists of this style in the Twin Cities scene and it’s not the first time he’s took the listener on a journey where conclusions were unforseen.
“Who, Who, and You” is the first song on the album that opts for singing and melody on the chorus – a refreshing transition from the straight lyricism of the previous tracks. KPW recruits Phillip Saint John for the hook work and a rap verse, as well as a stellar guest verse from Minnesota-based Hip-Hop M.C, Megatron, another frequent collaborator. Over a classic, mid-tempo boom bap production complete with DJ cuts, KPW and Megatron trade bars on their perspectives of the fractured world we live in, and how hope is the only shining beacon of optimism that keeps them on the pathway of positivity and success – a continuing critique of human duality that has been the central theme throughout the EP.
KPW closes out the EP with a final solo offering, “Felix”. Over a mythical, haunting, organ-based production, KPW delivers his last narrative on the title character’s pursuit of a lucrative lifestyle of wealth by any means necessary and his encounter with a danger personified as a woman, which reminded me a lot of Lupe Fiasco’s “concept behind “The Coolest” from the 2007 album, “The Cool”. It’s a song that once again shows KPW’s penchant for complex storytelling that has a deeper meaning than what the surface of the tale reveals.
While this isn’t my favorite project from KPW’s rich catalog, the EP was very concise, educational and full of quality, well thought out concepts and complex lyricism. As always, it will take a few listens to this project to full grasp everything. At times, this continuing theme may seem like a handicap of KPW’s work for the casual rap listener, in a climate where simplicity is king. But what’s respected is that KPW never opts to people-please or water down his content to meet the standards of contemporary popular music. It really shows the musical integrity is still alive in well in Hip-Hop and can be found right here in the Twin Cities underground scene. “8 7EVEN FIVE; LACONIC” is available on all major streaming platforms.