Hip-hop is usually defined with its swift hi-hat runs and speedy deliveries. Ka changes it up a bit. His new record Honor Killed The Samurai is a slow-moving, dramatic, and reprimanding record. It's not in your face but its message is all the same.
Ka's production style is what defines him as an artist. Percussion takes a backseat with his style, an instead the rest of the instrumental fills the space that begs for a drive to thrust the lyrics forward. There's a lot of great instrumental moments on the record that show that percussion doesn't necessarily need to be the backbone of hip-hop; the quiet yet strong 'Just' is led by a beautiful arpeggiated synth that accentuates the "politeness" of the track - the way Ka delivers his lines shows a respect for the listener (just like the ways of a samurai, eh?). The album also has a general moodiness that surrounds it in a mysterious shadow - listen to 'The Cold and Lonely', and the ad-lib tambourines and constantly in-and-out strings. It's like you're listening to this song in black and white. This dark theme repeats itself in 'Mourn At Night', but features a more tight instrumental with paired guitar and keyboard arpeggios.
The message of each track is as strong in the lyrics as the instrumentals. 'Mourn At Night' seems to be a comment on America's shooting crises over the last years: "he gone, we mourn at night" is what takes the song to a somber end. '$' comments on the nature of struggling in the ghetto on top of a dramatic piano and bass. 'Finer Things / Tamahagene' is the most polished track on the record, a beautiful pairing of acoustic guitar and piano with some electronics quietly play under the dramatic and tense lyrics, which sound like a life story, almost. 'Destined' is the oddest track on the record - it's a bit more out going than other tracks, and just feels out of place. The vocals are as moody as the song tries to be, and it just doesn't sound as cohesive as other tracks. Ka has a very moody delivery, and it definitely pairs well with the plethora of moody tracks on the album. 'Ours' is another song with definitive lyrics; "these seconds, these minutes are ours" is a nice play on words when you hear it upon the bellowing layers of vocals and synths that build into a haunting end.
Honor Killed The Samurai is on big metaphor. It's about life in the ghetto; more specifically, the struggles of it. A samurai is cunning and passionate. They'll die for their honor. Ka comments on what "honor" has become, and how its definition can become blurred. It's unique in its sound, and definitely a memorable record. If it had a more engaging from an emotive stance, it could've been a real classic, but it's a good record nonetheless.
Favorite Tracks: Finer Things / Tamahagene, Just
Least Favorite Track: Destined
Rating: 67 / 100