Published Sep 27, 2019One of New York's most underappreciated rappers has released his latest album, Gilda. Kemba's project is named after and influenced by his late mother, who passed in 2017. He raps on this album about the loss, his family and community, all while blending musical influences from Nirvana to Kanye to Kendrick Lamar.
The most gripping quality to the record is how Kemba's vocal manoeuvring interacts with a production close to a mid-2000s Kid Cudi or Kanye. There's nothing barebones, and Kemba uses his voice in a sort of rollercoaster, mellifluous Chance the Rapper way to extract an emotionality that makes Gilda an experience. It's not just dope rhymes and beats — the album is very intentionally trying to convey the mental state of losing a parent when you're already confused about a lot of things in your life.
"Dysfunction," is a prime example of the interplay between voice and production. He raps that he "lost [his] mother to a motherfucking stroke," and wonders if he could've "avoided it." On the chorus, he sings about being "insignificant" and how all his achievements are "coincidence."
A professor of rap that's likely not a thing yet, even though it should be, could earnestly display this song as a prime example of blending form and function in order to elicit an emotion — basically the principle that drives all art. Kemba does this blending better than an off-the-shelf Vitamix, leaving the listener to wonder why something so effective isn't done by everyone.
Why don't more people rap like Kemba? It's because they can't. (Republic)