Hip-hop and its younger offspring, rap, were always characterised by very distinctive and recognisable sounds, certainly at the point of their inception. But all music evolves, changes, and moves with the times, it has to, so successive waves of forward-thinking artists and musical adventurers have transformed the urban music landscape into a broad and eclectic domain over the two generations of sonic evolution and technological revolution that followed since its formative days in the clubs and youth centres of South Bronx.

The music made by z // k is a prime example of this transformation at work and because of this his songs defy simple categorisation. While they incorporate the legacy of hip-hop in its grooves and lyrical delivery, it is also built on skittering trap beats, beguiling ambient electronica, and even some almost pop immediacy. It also represents a harmonious fusion of the old and new worlds. z // k may be classified as hip-hop by some, but the music he makes is much more than that too.

Walk With Me is a great track but is also perfect for anyone who wants to understand where the urban sound has got to in the here and now. Lyrically, it touches on the timeless themes of struggles, hopes, and ambitions. Musically, it represents the sound of evolution at work. You can hear z // k’s sonic origins in the eclectic and adventurous moves, trap grooves, chilled clubland vibe, and vocal deliveries that balance soulfulness and a street-honed edge, and not least in the infectiousness he creates within the music – a fine line walking between muscle and melody. However, the most intriguing aspect of this song is less about how it is made and where it is headed. Walk With Me is the sound of yesterday crashing into today, creating a sound representing tomorrow’s music.

Ode To The Ghetto is a song built of growing tension and anticipation, a street opera, a dark sonic ballet, and a narrative delivery that proves that above all else z // k is a master storyteller, something that again echoes those early hip-hop pioneers.

The evolution of hip-hop and rap has resulted in a diverse and eclectic urban music landscape. z // k is a prime example of this transformation, showcasing the fusion of old and new sounds. While categorising music can be helpful, it’s equally essential to allow music to exist without labels and appreciate its evolution and diversity. And that is precisely what is going on here.

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