AKAI SOLO - Spirit Roaming Music Album Reviews

AKAI SOLO - Spirit Roaming Music Album Reviews
Anchored by muted samples and soul-baring soliloquies, the New York rapper’s new album is an impressive, winding meditation on survival.

“Mob Psycho 100,” the second song on AKAI SOLO’s Spirit Roaming, begins with a sample from an interview with the late Toni Morrison: “How do you get through? Sometimes you don’t survive whole, you just survive in part. But the grandeur of life is that attempt; it’s not about that solution.” As the song unfolds, this wisdom spills into the deep cauldron of AKAI’s emotions and thoughts on resilience. The chopped vocal loop transforms into a tortured chant, as his cathartic, stream-of-consciousness bars trickle out of him. The raps feel almost strained, as if to ensure that the lessons he’s collected on his search for universal truth arrive clearly above the instrumental chaos. “Mob Psycho 100” feels like a portal to the rest of Spirit Roaming: a fractured realm that contains the winding routes of AKAI’s life. Inside, he leads us with impassioned soliloquies and elaborate sample arrangements, rendered with impressive precision.

The beauty of joining AKAI on this spiritual journey is its unpredictability. There’s a pleasant, meandering rhythm to the way the 28-year-old moves through musings on the futility of rap game politics (“For a Few”), the paralyzing nature of existential anxiety (“Demonslayer”), and the balance between protecting his heart and sharing his emotions (“Driftman”). With every topic on the table, AKAI’s ideas can feel daunting and opaque. He’s not completely forthright with the roots of his pain or the ways he’s forged his path. Instead, he chops his worldview into bite-sized morsels to allow for easier comprehension and consumption. He burns through couplets with a nimble, purposeful flow, each line revealing a flash of his hard-won insight: “Not being done in by this vital shit/Dread is not all there is,” he raps over the trudging drum loop of “Demonslayer,” before skirting off to the next idea, forcing you to scroll back to make sure you caught the knowledge he dropped. 

AKAI’s consistency here is a blessing and a curse. He settles into a groove among murky samples and esoteric jazz elements, a style that has come to characterize a certain vein of underground New York rap, and the combination makes Spirit Roaming a more uniform project than 2021’s True Sky. Tracks like “Red Butterfly” and “S.O.M.” might appear on a compilation of greatest hits from his label Backwoodz Studioz. On the latter, AKAI’s abrasive rapping slices through the dense production, like an adventurer cutting through jungle vines with a machete. But at times, the beat feels too commanding, and he periodically loses the battle against the cacophonous production. Take the back half of “The Weakest Crest,” which leaves some of his words drowned out by what sounds like a kazoo. Spirit Roaming works best when it strikes a balance between AKAI’s in-your-face rapping, the grating rhythms, and sampled melodies.

Fourteen different producers appear on the album, including his long-time collaborator iblss, D.C.’s WiFiGawd, and the Moreno Valley-based JUNIE. The varied source material that these producers draw on feels like a personal challenge for AKAI, whose subtle tempo manipulations help him find natural chemistry within a wide range of styles. He elongates his words as the beat of “Heart Weary!” awakens, then deploys a staccato flow as the chaotic, truncated piano loop kicks into gear. On “Red Butterfly,” he raps at an unrelenting pace, his lines blurring over a serene beat that feels as if it belongs in a Hayao Miyazaki film.

The closer “Upper Room,” with its sample’s haunting wails, is a fitting denouement. Calling upon Backwoodz duo Armand Hammer and producer Messiah Musik to assist, Armand Hammer’s billy woods and Elucid spit about the loss of loved ones and dealing with regret. In his final speech, AKAI alludes to his mother’s guidance and offers veiled threats of violence against those trying to knock him off his path. It’s as if the trio descended upon the track to arm each other with pearls of wisdom and cautionary tales before they head their separate ways. Spirit Roaming builds toward a seemingly impossible question to answer: How does one trudge through life in the face of mounting external pressure? That query grounds this album, driving AKAI’s ongoing search for the fundamental theories that help him stay alive. The result is a thrilling scavenger hunt, one that reminds us of the small miracle that is survival. 
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
AKAI SOLO - Spirit Roaming Music Album Reviews AKAI SOLO - Spirit Roaming Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 07, 2022 Rating: 5


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