As we hit the home straight of 2012 the usual debates swirl around regarding who we might tip for success in 2013. We are fortunate enough to be asked to tip on both the BBC Sound Of 2013 poll and the blogger’s equivalent poll that runs parallel to it. Both are fantastic barometers of what 2013 might have in store, with the bloggers often finding some of their artists actually breaking in 2014. The toughest issue that has our internal dialogue raging is regarding whether we should tip who we believe is going to actually make it commercially, suggesting artists that will actually break through in 2013 – something that would substantiate our ability to pick out future stars – against who we would personally like to see break through. These are two very different lists. Who will make 2013 a success and who would we like to see make it a success? Both are based on quality to a certain extent, but one is based on whether they’re signed to a big label, what coverage and buzz they’ve had so far etc, whereas the other one is more about our personal tastes and who is currently exciting us. Well, today’s recommendation straddles both camps pretty successfully.
Kilo Kish ends 2012 with a healthy horizon sat upon 2013. Lakisha Kimberly Robinson was raised in Florida, but moved to New York seemingly to pursue a career in textile design. Now 22 years old, this female solo artist resides in Brooklyn and has the hip hop world salivating. She was originally one third of the hip hop trio Kool Kats Klub, but has since pursued her own path, releasing her debut EP in April this year, via Pizzawave Records. Before you consider this artist next year’s equivalent of 2012′s Azealia Banks, or 2011′s Kreayshawn, this is an artist moving much farther away from traditional, abrasive hip hop and far more towards the smoother, soulful end of it’s spectrum. Gone are the clichéd soundbites and cutesy appearance. Instead we get something that’s matured and tempered, with a sound that’s more melancholic and slowed in pace. It feels more accessible for those outside the usual hip hop horizons.
Alongside some sizeable online coverage, she’s received some useful backing. Not only does she end the year having released her wonderful single, Navy, in October, but in the same month she impressed at the the recent, profile-raising CMJ showcase held by Gorilla vs Bear in New York. This attention is no surprise when you learn that her debut album, Sick Sad World, is being produced and released by The Internet, a hip hop duo made up of Syd Tha Kyd and Matt Martians from OFWGKTA. In fact that same duo released their debut album, Purple Naked Ladies, last December and had Kilo Kish guest upon it’s track, Ode To A Dream; an appearance that acted as a teaser of what is still to come from the set up. Collaborations will continue as she’s planning to record with Childish Gambino and another artist from the OFWGKTA production line, Frank Ocean.
Her recent single, Navy, arrived on October 8th and sees her reaching a refined level of song-writing. It’s a wonderful example of her late-night, acoustic hip hop. Beats shuffle, but each of the tightly produced notes and sounds appear as if in isolation, which marry up with her vocals perfectly, as they too see every word uttered independently, clear word after clear word. You can almost put full stops between the words in the chorus, as she sings “We. Are. The. Stars. I. Don’t. Just. Shine. For. You“. The bassline feels like the kind of warped double bass that we once heard in Roni Size‘s Brown Paper Bag. Atmospheric, classy and patient, it’s as much jazz as it is hip hip. This is music designed for an urban, smoke-filled, basement cocktail bar. It’s hip hop for grown ups. Other tracks, such as Sick, see her call and response the vocals, as if you’re listening to her internal dialogue. Crosstown is almost whispered into your ears as she suggests you “get fucked up“. Julienne takes things to a slightly more grooved level, acting out a scene between verses. Indigo’s July is perhaps one of the most straight-up hip hop tracks on offer to date, letting in more daylight than the others. Watergun is a shining example of her class, as she adds singing to the spoken words. Even though it appeared on her Soundcloud a few months after her single, it’s already had more plays, suggesting that this is a direction the public would pull her if they could.
She has enough variety and skill to provide a decent range of songs on the eventual album and seeing as her more recent tracks seem the most successful in terms of accessible quality then this is an artist on the right trajectory. The standard of the craft on offer is as tight as anything you’ll hear this year or next. Every sound seems very deliberately placed. Looking beyond all the useful coverage, exciting collaborations and a set of hot producers on board, this isn’t just lining up an explosive 2013, but it’s making Kilo Kish one of the easiest tips we’ve ever considered. As with all lists of this kind – and we have to submit three suggestions for the BBC poll and five for the Blogger’s equivalent – there is always an artist you can scribble down immediately. In all honesty, it’s actually the last one on your list that has you twisting your melons. However, if it wasn’t for exceptional artists such as this, with the high standards that Kilo Kish offers, these end of year lists could have us experiencing tipper’s block. That block is removed with consummate ease when artists like this come onto our radar. Expect her to be on everyone else’s radar come next year. (MB)
KILO KISH – NAVY
KILO KISH – WATERGUN