Is goth hip hop a label that’s been thrown out there? I’m personally having a hard time thinking of anybody that I would describe in such a fashion, but listening to the debut solo album from Kno of Cunninlynguists is a very dark experience. The title is enough to ponder as is the art work, which features a black and white drawing of a young woman crying. I’m racking my brain trying to think of what to compare this to, but I’m drawing a blank. All I can think is that art kids who wear all black could get down with this record.
If you’re familiar with Cunnilynguists work, you might not be ready for how heavy this album is. Not that they didn’t do anything serious, but their playfulness is a large draw. With this project, Kno went in a different direction. I’m not sure if there was a specific inspiration for the album, but he employs a much darker tone than one might associate with the ‘Lynguists. With song titles like “If You Cry,” “Loneliness,” and “Le Petite Mort (Come Die With Me),” you can get a sense of the mood of the lyrics and production.
Kno has been the man behind the beats for most of his career, and the production work on this endeavor is again solid. Vocal samples are used poignantly, the drum hits sound really good, and a haunting atmosphere is created through layers of keyboards and guitars, and sometimes just a simple bass line. The majority of the album resides at a mid-tempo pace. There are no dirges, which is good, but there aren’t any up-tempo or really funky numbers. I realize that this is largely by design, but over the course of the album, this makes the album a little monotonous.
As for the subject matter of this album, I personally would have liked some more variety to it, which is a problem I have with stuff that gets labeled goth. I realize that death can be tragic and sad, but I don’t think that should be the only fixation. I have personally with a wide range of death in my life, from the most unexpected and gut wrenching to old relatives whom whose time had simply come and it was a sweet release. In each case, there were a range of feelings that came over me. This album would have been much more interesting had it taken us through a range of grays in the emotional spectrum instead of just one shade of black.
Finally, I do have to touch on some lyrical content, and it’s the same problem that has kept me from becoming a Cunninlynguists fan from the beginning. They dabble in sexist language. We go several songs with good lyrical work, proving Kno as a capable emcee and songwriter, only to get to a song like “Graveyard,” which just has line after line of offensive material. It’s really unfortunate, because I think Kno and his album are capable of so much more than they presented as the final product.
|Title:||Kno - Death is Silent|