Words: Renée Davis
AN ALBUM REVIEW + DISCUSSION WITH JASON NKANGA
Meet Jason Nkanga: the South London rapper who in 2019 was not only working hard to graduate from university but also adding the finishing touches to his fourth body of work ‘Redemption’. Released on 20th November 2019, the 7 track album showcases a multitude of rap styles and lyrical excellence from Jason Nkanga.
If you’re a fan of hip hop and artists such as J.cole & Smino it is crucial that you give 'Redemption' a listen.
1. Intro ft Victor Baba
The first track of ‘Redemption’ is 'Intro', simple though the track is not, Nkanga starts off the album with diegetic sound. The footsteps, the humming and the car door introduces us to Nkanga’s narrative for not only the first track but the whole album. Nkanga has a short conversation with an overly excited cab driver, everyone has at least once been put in a situation with someone that doesn't stop pestering or had to endure a journey with an annoying driver, thus 'Intro' lets us relive that oh so awkward feeling. This conversation in the car cleverly leads to the second track.
Jason Nkanga -"With Intro, I wanted a real life feel to the project. I didn’t want it to be just a song, but a way of visualizing it with your eyes closed. It was the perfect way to start off the project for me."
2. Running With Me
Redemption's second track is fast paced and quirky but that doesn’t mean unlikeable.
While this song doesn't have a drop or intense bass which can often make a song feel as though it is lacking, the fast flow that Nkanga uses throughout 'Running With Me' keeps the track energised.This track felt heavily inspired by American Hip-Hop especially when considering the added slang of ‘dawg’ ‘hoe’ and ‘homie’ to each of Nkanga’s verses, which definitely worked. The witty line from Nkanga "Who running with me, better tie your laces properly homie" makes the song give across its own attitude.
Jason Nkanga - "'Running With Me' is a song that was different to me and to my listeners. I wanted to give them a different feel of me, a faster version. The song is about my way up to the top; my rise. Basically, if you plan on coming with me you have to go at the same pace with me cause I’m not slowing down for anything or anyone no matter what."
3. Turn Great
Transitioning to a chiller track produced by Banx the solid beat paired with Nkanga’s catchy hook makes 'Turn Great' a personal favourite from the album that could be played in every club. In this track Nkanga showcases his own lyrical skills with a J. Cole inspired flow. The track features a short instrumental bridge at the end that flows back into the chorus which makes me want to keep the track on repeat. The last few seconds of the song sounded incredible as the song breaks down coming into a fade out. Nice, very nice.
Jason Nkanga - "I can remember Banx sending the beat to this song and instantly, I knew this was it. I had to emphasise my soon to come greatness on the song (speaking into existence). This was the hardest song to create out of all the songs on the project."
4. I Put In Everything (Interlude)
Even as a short interlude 'I Put In Everything' is a track that is bursting with expression through which Nkanga discusses his dedication to hard work and his gratitude. The track's beat feels atmospheric and spaced out especially with the robotic sounding chorus. The passionate lyric in this interlude makes the 1 minute 10 second track hold a lot of depth . "You see, Jason you deserve it" Nkanga reminds himself that he is worthy which adds a tenderness to the track that without a doubt is appreciated by listeners.
Jason Nkanga - "I remember listening to 'Runaway' by Kanye West and feeling inspired by it. It helped in creating this song. This song was used as a way of expressing myself, telling listeners how passionate I am about the music I make and how much time, effort and money I put into this (everything)."
5. Moves ft. Mick Jenkins, Blaqbonez & Asriel
Track 5 is another powerful track by Nkanga, with a tropical sounding beat produced by Juno Adonis. 'Moves' is the longest song from the album but the track keeps engagement high as every verse is as interesting as the last. With Mick Jenkins, Blaqbonez & Asriel featuring on Moves, Nkanga shows off his ability to create a track that can handle a multitude of rappers without overcrowding the 4 minute beat. The structure of the track is noticeably well organised allowing each artist to have their own equal spotlight.
Jason Nkanga - "Not only am I an artist. I am also a rap fanatic. This song was made so all three artists that were featured on it could step up and show their rap prowess. All artists showing off their high skilled lyricism which they did too effortlessly."
6. Know You Better Ft. theMIND
'Know You Better' can only be explained by me as an incredibly lovely song that Nkanga surely made with romantics like me in mind. The backing vocals on the track adds a nice sprinkle of tenderness and the melody has a funky touch. Nkanga’s lyrics discuss the relatable feeling of craving to get to know someone you like more in depth. 'Know You Better' has evidently had a more delicate approach taken to it compared to the rest of the album which lets us understand a softer side of Nkanga and his art of storytelling.
Jason Nkanga - "'Know You Better' is everyone’s favourite. A project is never complete without a love song. I wanted to create a classic love song, a song that would show the romantic side of me. I would say theMIND, Blutop and I were the perfect combo."
7. Rather Try Than Not
The final track is 'Rather Try Than Not', which really brings the mixtape full circle as at the start of the album in track Intro, Rather Try Than Not was the first song chosen by the annoying driver before he skips to Running With Me. Rather Try Than Not opens with a distinctive siren that can be heard throughout the entire track with a hard hitting beat creating an old skool feeling. Nkanga’s strong verse opening of ‘It was time, I had to take my shot’ Nkanga shows us that even with an ending to his mixtape he is filled with energy which makes me look forward to hearing many other projects from Jason Nkaga.
Jason Nkanga - This was the track to finish up the project. It is a song that’s meant to inspire and lift up listeners who are scared to chase their dreams because of the fear of failure. Not trying at all is indeed worse than failure
'Redemption' is for sure a successful hip hop album with a large amount of variety that ties together without any tracks feeling out of place and Jason Nkanga is one to keep on your radar.
Stream Redemption Here: