The art of exploring any genre is not worrying too much where any of the boundaries lay. More importantly, perhaps, when you do brush up against them being willing to leap over them, tunnel under them or kick them down so that you can freely explore what lies on the other side. Although King, and the album I’m Up, has one foot planted firmly in the realms of rap and hip-hop, it is his ability to bring other sonic styles to this party which makes it so interesting, unique and often predictable.
The title track kicks things off with a blend of depth-charged bass bombs, skittering electronica and space. Plenty of space. And it is this purposeful emptiness and these dark atmospherics which makes the lyrics which hang within all the more resonant and powerful. Kill Bill blends more traditional hip-hop salvos with an almost futuristic vibe and Xotic wanders completely into neo-R&B territory.
The album ends with Change, a reflective and singular electro-ballad, one which proves that auto-tune is anything but just a correctional studio tool but something which when wielded correctly can be used as an instrument in its own right.
Although sonic tribalism and generic allegiances are a thing of the past, too many artists are still afraid to explore new territory. I’m Up is the sound of someone going off grid, wandering along unexpected musical back roads, exploring fresh musical space and then returning with a whole clutch of new ideas, infusions and influences to play with.