From Texas to Russia, few things are so universally revered as beautiful music. Ladies and gentlemen the world over will tap their toes at the drop of solid hip-hop beat. A sorrowful jazz trumpet or piano will bring a tear to anyone’s eye. And the successful marriage of the two should be enough to stretch a smile across anyone’s face.
Today’s review will be no different. The Russian producer known as Mr. KiD, and his album After August are a testament to the excellence that is jazzy hip-hop. The 17 quick tracks (all around 2 minutes) on After August combine the elegance of jazz instrumentation with the mellow street wisdom of hip-hop sensibilities.
The album opener “Good Morning” starts us off on the right side of the bed with a smooth saxophone and piano duet. The sun is shining, birds are singing. All feels right in the world. As soon as we roll out of bed, however, things come back down to earth. Mr. KiD synthesizes and digitizes, making the piano part of a series of loops combined with strong bass notes. The loop is pretty consistent throughout the track’s 2 minutes and 18 seconds, but it’s not completely the same. He adds subtle guitar riffs, chimes, breaks, and an almost-imperceptible string in the background.
Track number 2, “Life will be better”, showcases Mr. KiD’s skill with mixing samples into his tracks. Honestly, I have a hard time identifying the sample’s source because the voice is pitched up (which some might find irritating, but I don’t mind at all) and the words are so spliced and diced that it’s difficult to make out any of the lyrics. Yet, the sample never feels dominating. A heavy bass line and pinches of piano flesh out the soundscape while computer effects and manipulations fill in the nooks and crannies.
Mr. KiD is also proficient in channelling diverse moods. “Gypsy sou(l)” has, appropriately enough, a soul/rock feel. It’s full of twangy guitars and impassioned vocal samples. “Dance with me” feels like anticipation, like something interesting is about to happen. Indeed, something interesting does happen. You just have to wait until the end to find out what. “Shadow of dream” and “You don’t know” convey a sense of longing. “Lament song” is imbued with the feelings of sadness and loss, which are clearly felt in the predominant piano. But it’s not all tears. The track wraps up a lighter piano arrangement to provide some closure. “Everything” has a sexy, ’90s, R&B mood to it. There’s electric pianos, sensual vocals, even a pan flute.
Perhaps my favorite track on the album is “So rare”. It brings everything to the table: pianos, drums, strings, hard bass, electronic manipulations, heady psychedelia, and a cool heavy-light-heavy pace. Unfortunately, it too is only about 2 minutes long, but it’s a fun 2 minutes.
Mr. KiD is like a skilled chef. He keeps things simple by letting his main ingredients (pianos, saxophones, beats) shine as the stars of his tracks while adding little bits of spice here and zest there to achieve delicious morsels ready for immediate and continuous consumption.
Before I forget to mention it, Mr. KiD also has several other albums that I haven’t even touched yet, so there’s a ton of material to nosh on.
Mr. KiD – “Good morning”
Mr. KiD – “So rare”
After August download link on Mediafire