There’s a unique energy to CLBRKS & Kiina’s music that captures the darker and moodier side to London life. This is my first proper introduction to CLBRKS’ music, and I’m immediately hooked to his almost nasally, high-pitched delivery that is direct and frantic. This complements and contrasts Kiina’s soulful and melodic production, who is able, on their new collaborative album Habits 2, to craft a spacious soundscape for CLBRKS, who fills the spaces with claustrophobic raps that capture the gloom and grit of London.
“I Know You / Window” kicks the project off with soulful keys that turn into this subtle beat, complemented by CLBRKS’s introspective and relatable lyrics about his own life experiences, painting an abstract picture of himself as an artist and person. With his heightened vocal delivery and his effortless flows, he is able to complement Kiina’s textured production. “Where I Am Is Not Important” is a hard-hitting track with a dominant, almost rumbling bassline. CLBRKS’ wittyyet menacing wordplay and delivery is what makes this such a memorable track. “TALK TO ME NICE” features an excellent verse from Conrad Mundy, whose role in painting a picture of his state of mind, it’s a true introspective and reflective record, and one of the highlights on the project. The beat on “Embankment” is incredible, Kiina’s production is sublime, with bass-heavy drums, playful synths and a groovy melody. “GOONIES” featuring Renelle & 1jack, is another highlight, with a grandiose sound, a spaceous beat with emphatic drums and almost ethereal synths. The way CLBRKS rhymes on this one is special, and both features flow effortlessly about their own lives and experiences. “BELUGA” featuring Conrad Munday and Bisk ends the album off perfectly, with a dark, eerie beat and intricate wordplay from everyone on the track, with braggadocio raps and seemless, meandering flows that work perfectly on this smooth beat.
CLBRKS & Kiina really exceeded expectations with Habits 2. It’s a concise body of work that captures the dark allure of London city life poignantly. CLKRKS’ perspective and observations about life around him are interesting, and combined with Kiina’s soulful and vibrant production makes for a fantastic listen. Go listen to CLBRKS & Kiina’s incredible new album Habits 2 below via Bandcamp. Released via Wing Yip Records.