CD REVIEW: Kaotik - The Awakening
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Label: Independent Artist
Sounds Like: Kayne West, Tribe Called Quest, Common, Lyfe Jennings
Technical Grade: 8/10
Weakness: Lackluster Mix, Marketability
Tennessee based Rapper Kaotik releases his latest CD entitled The Awakening in 2011. Kaotik is no stranger to the industry having released 3 albums, 7 mixtapes to his credit & also named ‘One of the Best Underground Artists of 2006′ by hiphoplinguistics.com. His track “Early In The Mornin’” was featured even in DMX’s film Lords of the Street.
The CD kicks things off with “Awaken” a prelude of sorts that’s sets the stage rather well with its theatrical musical build & apocalyptic groove. This leads you to the next track “Give Em Hell” featuring fellow rapper Valley. This track hits hard with no-holes barred rap delivery that doesn’t back down. Track 3 “Dreamer” dishes yet out hypnotic groove with well-placed piano accents, solid low end punch & heart-felt rap flow from Kaotik. Track 4: one of my favorites “Grind” features rapper Steelbillyosis & delivers yet another hooky chorus & impressive verse split. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many rap influences reminiscent of Kayne West, Tribe Called Quest & Lyfe Jennings. Along the way you can’t help but notice a lot of impressive musical soundscapes layered within the music. The mixing is effective & packed to the hilt with things like sound effects & well placed strings, guitar, & smooth as silk keyboard & synthesizer accents. The beats are thick as a brick providing solid low end support, & amazing hi-end touches. The CD has many musical flavors, from hip hop, rap, jazz, blues, R&B, and even psychedelic rock. You will find everything from clever rhymes, addictive melodies, lyrics that are thought provoking, & rap flows that are methodical. Now turning out attention to Kaotic – the thing I like the most about his vocal performances is how well Kaotik handles himself without going way over the top like most rap artists. Equally as impressive is the X-Factor from Kaotik as he is clearly passionate about what he is rapping about. Some tracks are heartfelt “Kings Return”, Dope, Eyez Open, No Sleep” while others have a very melodic “Put U on”, “High”, “Dead” & “I Miss U” But my favorite tracks are the more in your face types like "Feeling Numb" My Queen". The CD ends with Resurrect Me" the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
Most will agree the message is the most important thing in any world class rap production. On this CD the vocals & rap flows sit way too far down in the mix for me. Most rap CD’s will put a refined crystal clear vocal delivery into the forefront – this production does quite the opposite. As a result Kaotik fails to make the critical “singer to listener” emotional connection on most of his songs mainly in part because you can't hear what he is saying. Thus his messages & lyrics miss the mark because everything gets lost in translation. The overall mix though effective is not nearly as refined as some of the top notch rap productions out there right now. Overall mix is somewhat erratic, amateurish & a bit all over the place. I fully realize this is a subjective art form but many of the above issues effect the CD’s overall marketability & mass appeal.
Song for song, pound for pound The Awakening by Kaotik is a powerful CD. It has everything from raw intensify, clever lyrics, to songs that are well crafted. As a whole this CD possesses allot of variety, & versatility. It delivers the typical in your face urban swagger you would expect from a rap production. Even more impressive is the strong emotional rap grooves & the arsenal of rappers Kaotik brings to the table (Drago, Valley, Steelbillyosis & Freestylez) It’s also a fully loaded production. Kaotik makes his presence known & will sure to awaken your body, mind & soul. Fosho!