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Review written by Brad W. (@Brad_C_Williams).

When Kilo Kush (legally Lakisha Robinson) released her Homeschool EP in 2012, both listeners and critics alike were undecided. Some embraced her refreshing honesty and neo-soul contemporaneity while others dismissed her nihilistic approach as insipid and unrefined.

At 22 years old, Kish never imagined herself to be a musician, launching her music career somewhat on accident. Living in Brooklyn, the recent success of New York’s artists motivated her to also create music as a way to convey her sentiments in a structured manner. Through her endeavors with roommates Smash Simmons and Mell McCloud under the name Kool Kats Klub, Kilo Kish was introduced to Odd Future’s Matt Martian of The Internet, leading to features on their track “Ode To A Dream” as well as the Jet Age of Tomorrow’s “Want You Still.”

When her first full-length mixtape K+ descended unto the webosphere on February 7th, the traffic on her homepage and subsequent blogs brought terrifically slow download times, indicating that many listeners wanted to tune in to see what the buzz is all about.

My initially listening of Kish’s latest freelease was less than favorable. Originally, the nonchalant approach and thin vocals of her neo-soul/urban contemporary sound paired with (what seemed to be) trite sentimentalism turned me away from the project. However, I was reminded of a quote by folk artist Woody Guthrie in one of my lectures this week: “any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.” Upon further listens and examination, my initially perceived shortcomings of Kilo Kish and K+  became what makes her music subliminally genius and captivating.

The genius of this mixtape lies within its conceptual formation of the project. Every track on this album adds depth and complexity to her artistic narrative vision that keeps listeners personally invested. Overarching the 10 tracks of the mixtape is the narrative of a teasing relationship turned infatuation and disappointment. “Goldmine” firmly establishes her affection for a man who does not seem to recognize her. Featuring A$AP Ferg, “Love2K” portrays the voices of both the male who is more concerned about physicality and the female who wants something deeper. Including lines from Meech and Juice from Flatbush ZOMBiES, the eerie defeatism of “Creepwave” and the gloomy resolution that the male loves someone else somberly closes the intimate, borderline self-deprecation of this unhealthy love.

Comparing K+ to Homeschool, I applaud Kilo Kish on her willingness to broaden her acoustical horizons. Production from SBTRKT and Earl Sweatshirt on the tracks “Ghost” and “Trappin” offers her a new, individual sound that is refreshing and lively. She does so without losing the center of her traditionally mellow, next-door-neighbor electronic feel of her music thanks to contributions from Matt Martian and the entire Internet crew. In addition, Childish Gambino‘s verse on “Ghost” perfectly fits the attitude Kish is trying to convey.

The vocals demonstrates a wider array of emotions unnoticed in Kilo Kish’s past work as seen on the Pro Cal produced “Turquoise.” Discussing her frustrations of a relationship that lead to disappointment and irritation, her artistic variance between reminiscence and anger parallels her exhaustion with a man who is not equally reciprocating her sentiments.

If 2012 is any indication of what is to come in 2013, the traditional conceptions of music genres such as hip-hop, R&B, and soul are becoming more complicated and intertwined. Audibly, Kish melds together the abrasiveness of Lana Del Ray with the abstract creativity of Lauryn Hill and Frank Ocean to create her own footprint in the ever-growing subgenre of urban contemporary. Some may be turned away on their first approach to Kish’s music, chalking up her uniqueness as uncomfortable and untalented – this judgment is far from the truth. Kilo Kish bears her soul to her listeners, regardless of their approval, in an intimate and endearing way that should not be ignored. Sit with K+ for a while and you will understand why Kilo Kish has deservedly garnished so much praise in the last year.

Listen and download K+ below. Leave your thoughts on Kilo Kish and this review in the comments!

Download: Kilo Kish – K+ (Mixtape) [Direct]