California rapper 10k Kwasi dropped three projects last year, more than doubling his overall output. The third and longest of these, November’s Golden Boy, is the first defining project of his career and a very worthwhile listen for fans of major hip-hop labels like TDE who may grow tired of their unpredictable release schedules.

Kwasi is a great rapper and his potential to be even better emerges on many of these songs, which is why such lofty comparisons are anything but far-fetched. ‘Just For You’ is a phenomenal choice for an opener that utilises a Pi’erre Bourne-esque production for a lament on the evils of the modern world. The title track meanwhile is less about struggle and more about realising potential despite immense odds, the beat selection here was truly excellent as it’s melodies are enchanting enough to stand out but not to the point where they overshadow Kwasi’s uber-tight flows. While the next couple of tracks are a slight deviation and don’t feature bar-heavy performances, they do pad the project out with breezier, hookier material.

Credit really must be given to the impeccable production choices that crop up here. ‘Reflection’ lurches between trap drums and slurred samples, all the while soaked in an indelible atmosphere. ‘Without a Doubt’ sees the MC wander amidst smokey loops in a duet with the shrill-voiced Eyit, while on ‘Long Time / Feelings’ he skips joyfully over luscious, upbeat percussion and keyboard flourishes. On the latter half of this song, Kwasi displays a second talent: a smooth singing voice.

The mixtape’s final stretch doesn’t full off even remotely, in fact many of Golden Boy’s strongest tracks can be found here. ‘Connection’ is one of the most instantly infectious tracks, and alongside ‘Wishes’ reveals the full breadth of his rapping skills. ‘When Do You Come Home’ features more of the same, it’s slow, soulful buildup a misleading introduction to a high-octane closer swelled to the brim with a complex mix of emotions. Throughout this project, Kwasi proves himself to be not only a competent rapper, but an endearing, relatable lyricist, a decent singer, and an artist with one of the best tastes for beats I’ve heard in a minute. Give Golden Boy a listen here and look out for plenty more from him in the coming year.

– Chris (@108mics)

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