Monday, May 2, 2011

Dear Kardi (re: The Valedictorian)

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"F*ckin Shaft music, nigga... No homo"

DOWNLOAD: Kardi - The Valedictorian

There's certain MCs that you can't help but feel. Not because they grew up around the same conditions and in the same circles as you, or because of random references that fly over the heads of most. Some MCs make you feel what they're saying. It's because of their gift for words and ability to paint a picture that draws you to their work and keeps your ears perked up and head nodding. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of listening to your sophomore offering The Valedictorian which arrived in my inbox promptly this weekend. I saw all of the blogs and websites posting it, as per usual with music nowadays, yet no one offered any perspective on it (also becoming the sad norm). Kardi, let me say this: This album made me pine for a time not long ago in time, but far far away in my mind. Being a senior in college and recanting on my time, I can't help but be nostalgic listening to The Valedictorian.

The album starts out on a melodic note, with 'Convocation' sounding off on the aspirations of a high school senior with rap as a goal, but college as a fall back. You sound so hopeful, so filled with joy that one part of your life is closing and another is set to begin. There's an air of arrogance to everything you're saying, clearly derived from being 'America's nightmare: young, black and educated'. At the same time, theres humbleness because you know there's so much more to accomplish, both in rap and school. As a freshman, the possibilities can be so distracting, but there's a main theme to this tape. In being a 'valedictorian,' you espouse focus as a tenet in your rise to the top, something no one seems to talk about. On the track 'Busy' you offer an apology to the people missing you, simply claiming the rigors of a burgeoning rap career and college tenure. It's endearing, especially for anyone who has aspirations that college classes get in the way of.

There's also a nature of duality that The Valedictorian comes with, based on that same battle between academic and non-academic success. Whether in the battle between classes and performances, or trying to keep a steady girlfriend who wants more time than you can give her, balance is necessary, not only as a freshman but as a college student in general. On tracks like 'Black Ferris Beuller' and 'Joke', you don't forget to flex your lyrical muscle, so that it's clear your talent belies your freshman status. Making light of the generation of 'swag' rappers who deem it better to copy than create, you outshine them, showing the Prep for Prep pedigree (P4P stand up!!) that helped to get you to college in the first place.
See, I'm something like a black Ferris Beuller, getting medulla from my tutor while I'm pulling Buddha
Quick bars like seem to roll off your tongue effortlessly, which was impressive. You definitely have a gift for spitting fast. Yet, at times you seemed to get ahead of yourself to the point where I had to rewind songs to catch the full gist of your statements. That's not a bad thing for heads who enjoy listening to rap, but for the untrained ear this might get laborsome. Try and slow down, and with purpose, so we can get the full benefit of hearing what you have to say.

Overall, The Valedictorian put older MCs to shame because it was reminiscent of the freshman perspective, yet showed a wisdom beyond your years. It's not the soulful kind of hip-hop J. Cole puts out. It's much more charismatic, like a freshman extending his hand during orientation. This album had a sound, a feel and a theme to it. It wasn't just a mish-mash of songs thrown together for the sake of it. Much like an undergraduate course of study, there is a plan, and it's clear you're sticking to it, Kardi. Excited for more work from you? I am. Who knows where you'll be in four years, much less one? Just make sure to enjoy the ride, because college moves fast, as do rap careers, though yours doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon...

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