First thing I want to post is my review of this masterful work of art. Right now, this is my album of the year. I have a ton of other assorted reviews. Not sure how I’m going to post them since I’ve gotten so behind, but this one is type priority and deserves its own post.
Kno- Death is Silent (4/4)
Kno, best known as the producer behind the underground hip-hop group CunninLynguists, refers to himself on the haunting track “Graveyard” as the “emo Primo.” While “emo” is used almost sarcastically, Kno’s description of himself isn’t far off. His talent as a producer rivals DJ Premier, although Kno’s beats are of darker nature and often drift closer into DJ Shadow territory. Needless to say, the beats on Death is Silent are fantastic. Each beat is layered with clean samples building and changing in the most interesting and subtle ways. Kno uses slow keys, vocal samples (often from films), and instruments that come and go at the most opportune time. Everything is simple, and yet few producers can achieve such beauty in their beats. Kno’s attention to detail is astounding, as every element of his beats is used to absolute perfection. Everything is so clean, so smooth, and so beautiful.
However, Death is Silent is more than just beats. Kno also raps on just about every track, and he is aided by some welcome guests. Deacon and Natti from CunninLynguists have multiple verses, all of which rival their best from A Piece of Strange and the Strange Journey albums. The immensely talented Tonedeff also shows up for a verse, as does Tunji from Inverse, Thee Tom Hardy, and Substantial. It would have been interesting to get a verse or two from someone outside of the usual CunninLynguists guests, but considering the quality of the verses it’s hard to argue.
Even Kno himself delivers some great verses. His flow is often methodical, coming across at times as a poor man’s Evidence, but he stays on beat and holds his own. In his lyrics, however, is where Kno truly shines as an emcee. He crafts his wordplay with the same attention to detail that he gives to the beats, creating the same type of “every word is necessary” lyricism that have been perfected by underground artists like Atmosphere and Aesop Rock. Kno’s lyrics are often stories, told vividly and even deceptively. He’ll start out with something typical and then take it a completely different direction, forcing the listener to go back and think about every line that has built up to the end. Rhythm of Rain might have his best verse, and is a perfect example of Kno’s deceptive wordplay. What starts out as a sexual metaphor turns into one of the darkest and most beautiful verses imaginable. Again, Kno’s mediocre flow may turn off some listeners, but those willing to dig deep into the lyrics will find that Kno’s talent is not restricted to beat making.
Death is Silent is a monster of an album, dark and beautiful in equal measures, and is absolutely essential to any fan of hip-hop. This is one of the best albums of the year, and it earns my highest recommendation