Emo rap aficionado Little Knife has cleverly balanced the melodic and introspective with the intensely heavy on his newest project Dystopia Pt. 1.
‘Coke With the Xan’ is everything that you could want from a song in the genre, it’s guitar melody and drums both massive driving forces for the song’s emotionally-charged songwriting. Producer thislandis has the most contributions to this tape, which is fortunate as Knife’s performances on his beats are his most inspired across the board. ‘Buried Alive’ makes equally great use of melancholy production for a killer second track, Knife’s verses emerge muttered and ominous while his hooks are soaring and triumphant. Lyrically this stuff is as bleak as the rapper’s prior work, but the balance between the rapper’s two distinct deliveries makes for a more interesting listen.
On most other songs however these two vocal styles remain largely separate. ‘Prom Night’, ‘Can’t Trust a Soul’ and the title track all feature stunning singing from Knife that stand out as some of his most impressive performances to date. It is arguable that this style of track suits Knife better, as he seems most comfortable singing about his woes over morose instrumentals. ‘Dystopia’ in particular is jaw-dropping, each guitar note ringing out over the sonic chasm as Knife’s lyrics become increasingly desperate and lonely-sounding. The harder songs here are also well worth your time, however, as Knife has improved his formula for bangers since his dark mixtape Songs of Silence. ‘Desert of the Real’ is his most savage song to date, here the rapper’s guttural vocals are at their most disgusting and feral. The song is produced by the project’s other primary beatmaker Forty Nine Mistakes, whose work on Songs of Silence was just as intense. These shorter, pummeling bangers are just as good an introduction to Knife’s music as the emo side of his discography, and I’m glad that both styles have converged harmoniously on this new release. The title suggests that we will soon see a second to part to this series, and I can only hope that it’s as diverse both instrumentally and vocally as this highly replayable first volume.
Listen to the project in full here.
Follow Knife on Twitter here.
– Chris (@108mics)