London-based multi-talented artist Kojey Radical has finally released his highly anticipated new album titled Cashmere Tears. Being a fan of his since his stunning 2014 project Dear Daisy : Opium, and reigniting my love for his aura last year with a stellar live show at KOKO in Camden, my expectations were high for this new release. Listening to it countless times now since the release, I feel torn. On the one hand, I love his honesty, openness about his past and his introspective thoughts, but I can’t help but feel let down by the lack of boldness and experimentation I have come to love about Kojey on previous releases.
The album starts off strong. Very strong. “Where Do I Begin,” with its rumbling bassline and tribal beat matches Kojey Radical’s menacing, reflective lyricism, talking about his being trapped in his own mind state, trying to fulfill his potential as well as giving us a snapshot of his past mistakes, as well as looking forward into the future. It’s an excellent opener, and I was hoping that it would set the tone for the remainder of the album. “2020” maintains that energy, as I described it as an absolute banger. The eerie, banging beat and devilish energy Kojey brings is hypnotic and puts me in some trance from start to finish. It’s a true reflection of his character and as a result is my favourite track on the album. From then on, however the album falls slightly flat for me. “Can’t Go Back” is a catchy, jazz-influenced track, a feel-good tune produced by Kz, Swindle and Kyu Steed. “Sugar” features Amaarae, who’s vocals are sweet and soulful, providing a hypnotic tone to the track, but it doesn’t stick with me the same way that the first two tracks did. His delivery is what keeps the track engaging, but to me if the soundscape behind the story isn’t as captivating to me, then as good as the lyricist sounds, it simply can’t click with me in that way. The hook to “Cashmere Tears” reminds me of MGMT’s “Electric Feel,” which is cool, but again, instrumentally while it’s a groovy, funky track, I feel like he could have done more with it in terms of having tempo changes, breakdowns or a rhythmic outro. The rhythmic guitar arpeggios and the bassline on “Eleven” are beautiful, with angelic vocals sprinkled throughout and soulful brass & strings making this one of my favourites as well. Thematically I feel like the album touches on a lot of important and relatable topics. I interpret the title Cashmere Tears as Kojey Radical’s duality between him thriving, having all this success, and battling with his vices. Cashmere is such a rich and smooth texture, while watering it down with tears takes away from it richness, thus this album is a therapeutic autobiography tackling some of his most personal issues. And you can feel this on tracks like “Feel About It” and “Last Night,” with the latter track especially being almost spiritual, with him talking to God asking for guidance, in a gospel-like tone, which is a great way to end this album.
Going back to my previous points however, the album to me lacks the same level of experimentation that previous projects like Dear Daisy:Opium and In God’s Body brought. If I want you to take anything from this review, it would be the following – Cashmere Tears to me is Kojey Radical working within his comfort zone. What drew me to his music initially was the fact that he pushed the boundaries of what hip-hop could sound like. Kojey needs to constantly work out of his comfort zone, to challenge himself musically, bringing more eclectic producers into the mix to craft something truly timeless. And I’m being critical because I really believe in the supremely talented artist, and I want nothing but the best for him. But I need to speak my truth, and this is what I feel. But you never know, it might grow on me in time, and I might see things differently until then, but until then, this is what I feel listening to it.
You can listen to Kojey Radical’s new album Cashmere Tears below via Spotify and if you’re feeling this release, please do support! Released via Asylum Records.