By Jake Chambers
Komplex Kai (www.facebook.com/KomplexKai) hails from The Evergreen State and like these tall trees with roots in the Pacific Northwest he stands proud. His Do Right EP embraces the essence of that rain soaked region to a T. His songs, just like a Walla Walla sweet onion, have many layers which when peeled back reveal yet another. Like Grieves or Sadistik, fellow Washingtonians, his sound is unique.
Of the 7 songs on Do Right I really liked On the Map the best. Here Komplex Kai captures the cray cray vibe of the old school anthem Insane in the Membrane by Cypress Hill and goes it one better. The industrial like rhythm of the percussion here is both hypnotic and menacing as a rattlesnake staring you straight in the eye as it moves towards you. Do you run, or do you stand as still as a statue? It makes it easy for us to imagine Kai behind the microphone, his tongue darting like a venomous viper preparing to strike as he spits his lyrics.
My second favorite on Do Right is actually the last track called Do Right. On this one Komplex Kai chooses instruments, such as an electric harpsichord, that you rarely hear in rap music. Full of swagger and bravado that he contrasts with a heavy sense of sadness it mirrors those famous gray, overcast skies of his home state. A tribal sounding tom-tom drums the beat along at a world weary pace.
The other 5 songs sandwiched between these 2 maintain their own identity while Komplex Kai tips his hat to those who’ve influenced his music. Warning has hints of vintage CeeLo Green from his Goodie Mob days. Regardless of the source of inspiration the vibe of this joint is tempered with an underground rawness that can only come from the soul that’s been cut to the quick and hurts like hell.
In My Veins is full of piano arpeggios counter-pointed by the haunting call of a horn that’s as spooky as a lonely ghost wandering between the tombstones of a cemetery at midnight. It’s here we hear the early echoes of Dr. Dre and Tupac ring through. Giving a nod in the techno direction is I’m Sorry. The orchestral hits and swoops used to punctuate this piece rest upon a bed of sustained synth pads with which Komplex Kai’s rock steady flow plays a game of cat and mouse. On Electro House the wordplay and phrasing is reminiscent of Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav but mixed with distinctive northwestern cadences. Bag It Up is the tune that eats into your hungry earwig. Once it’s there there’s no coming back.
Komplex Kai shares some tight shite with us on Do Right. I did a bit of research and found some of the other work he’s done available on Youtube and most of it is pretty good. If you’re into the indie scene then Kai’s your go to guy. While the way most major labels work is pretty much a mystery, and why some A&R guy or gal hasn’t already signed this artist, it has me scratching my head in question.