It’s funny how I found out that this album exists. I just saw people’s WhatsApp status updates praising his new album. Some even went further to call it the best Kenyan album of 2018. This caught my interest because I already considered MDQ’s She as the best album and I still stick to it. Will King Kaka’s new album change my opinion? Let’s find out.
A little bit of context first. King Kaka is one of the few artists I like. I have talked about the mediocre content that most local artists offer us in the name of instant popularity. What I do appreciate is that artists are now opting for album releases rather than season single releases. This is his second album since 2015, I guess, and it seems that he wants to remind us why he calls himself King.
What I like
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. King Kaka is a great rapper. He can spit on the mic like no one’s business. Are we all in agreement? Good. His skills are exhaustively used in this new album and you can even feel the effort put to it. That’s what I like to see. Artists dedicating their time to their craft.
The overall production is superb. The beats are the highlight of the whole album as they seem to go hand in hand with theme of the song. Not forgetting the variety of themes explored. We get everything from witty songs (Counter Attack) to Rnb (One and Only) to contemplating songs (Njia) to stories (Salome).
I, personally, love Salome. It is the best track in the whole record. What I love about it is the story being told about an abusive marriage. It’s a tale of how never seem to learn from experience even if all the signs indicate you are headed for the worst. Special mentions also go to Lullaby and Njia which are simply beautiful songs. Go and listen to them. They are worth it.
Moving to the features, boy oh boy do we have them. We get all kind of features in Eastlando Royalty. Talib Kweli, H_art the Band, Kristoff, Romain Virgo, Steph Kapella, Carol Atemi. And others. The diversity of the features also shows the diversity of the whole album in general. Which is good. Redsan did this with his album too but I feel this was better implemented.
One more thing. In the intro song, East kwa Mabeast, King Kaka talks about how the gospel industry has Willy Paul. I have never heard any words truer than that. At least someone realizes the problem with the gospel industry.
What I don’t like
There are a handful of issues but they all generate from one common problem I keep complaining about. Album length. Here’s the thing, I don’t like long albums. They feel more stretched out than they are supposed to and to make matters worse, some songs don’t even deserve to make the cut. But they do anyway. Quavo Huncho was a good example of this.
Now we have Eastlando Royalty, a 22-track album. It took me 1 hour 22 minutes to finish it. Okay, fine. How about listening to it three times so as to review it? Exhausting. I do get why they do this (streaming sales) but goodness me it is a chore to listen to all of them. While I’m not criticizing some songs, they are all good, it would have been better if the better songs were the ones to make the final cut. That didn’t happen and it brings about new problems.
For starters, let’s talk about the features. Sure, they do great in all the songs but one thing you do realize as you continue listening is the repetition of a formula. The formula being the feature does a great chorus, King Kaka does the two verses and the last verse is given to the feature. I didn’t even realize this issue with my first listen but as I kept on repeating the songs, there it was.
What’s worse is that this formula is major recurring theme in the whole album. Don’t believe me? How many solo songs are there in Eastlando Royalty? 7. That means 15 songs mainly have the same formula. While the diversity in lyrical themes are present, the overall package remains the same. This wouldn’t be a problem if some songs were axed.
The first song I would ax would be Dundaing. This is the weakest song and yet it is the most popular among the people. I mean, why? To be honest, this says a lot more about the average listener than King Kaka himself. Then we have Mbesa. Ha-ha. Let’s not talk about that one. 😂
Despite my issues with the album length, this is a big step forward for Kenyan music and King Kaka. This is a well-produced album and it deserves all the praise it is getting right now. What about it being the best Kenyan album? Nah. I still stand with MdQ’s She. Eastlando Royalty comes second. Great album though. I give it an 8.6/10.