New York City’s Pro Era, led by front man Joey Bada$$, has directed their recent spotlight to the release of Kirk Knight’s debut project Late Knight Special.
Kirk Knight, has been one of the group’s main producers throughout their development and has stood out among the various group members as a talented emcee, breaking the hip-hop stereotype that producers can’t rap.
I have been following multiple members off the Pro Era roster through their social media accounts, with a focus on their Instagram accounts and I have noticed a recurring trend within their postings. Whenever one of the members is working on their latest project, all of the members take to their social media and promote their peers’ material, such was the case during Kirk Knight’s process of working on his debut album. For a genre of music such as hip-hop, where competition is fierce and proving yourself through your craft is essential, these young emcees have harvested a strong sense of comradery, which is a wonderful thing to see in a genre of music with a history of harsh critiques and violent competition.
Kirk Knight’s debut has earned my respect and admiration because of the independence he took in working on this album. Kirk produced all 12 tracks himself, proving himself to be an able one-man army of sorts. The amount of artists he features is just right because of his placement with certain artists on specific songs, features include: Joey Bada$$, The Mind, Mick Jenkins, Nonamegypsy and Thundercat. His lyricism is nothing to take lightly either, as Kirk fashions his own style through his raps, earning himself a sense of individuality aside from his fellow Pro Era members. As a side note, none of the other Pro Era members appear on the album except for Joey Bada$$, who makes a fearsome feature on the fourth track called “5 Minutes.”
Not only were Kirk’s tracks very catchy and personal at times, but I found Kirk to be an extremely charismatic and an easy to relate to individual. As a sucker for references within any type of art form, I was delightfully surprised when I heard Kirk reference the famous video game Resident Evil in the third track (one of my favorite for the gritty, grimy sound it has), “Brokeland,” declaring: “Residence medieval, so watch my umbrella, uh.” If you are as much of a gaming geek as I am, then you will easily get the reference.
On a serious note, Kirk made a great decision featuring Mick Jenkins on the track “I Know,” which is a dark, realistic dwelling into the depths of both emcees minds, exploring their insecurities and doubts. Both emcees also perform spectacularly, with Mick Jenkins channeling much emotion to cleverly speak to the listener “I do not expect you to understand, like the kind of mood that will match overcast, or when a b**** n**** throwing shade under hand,” and Kirk mentioning a powerful line on him being worried about his success “I don’t wanna jeopardize everything I built, because of people I socialized with.”
The other track that displays Kirk’s wide range of subject matter is “Dead Friends,” which features female emcee Nonamegypsy, as well as bass player extraordinaire, Thundercat. Within this track Kirk discusses the conflict that is life and how to deal with it when many of your friends have passed away. Kirk’s haunting chorus is hypnotically sang over a melancholic bass, “Every time I feel alive I think about dead friends. The rest is just dead to me. Sleeping couch to couch just to find a way in.” Nonamegypsy also devours the track with some of her saddening, but powerful lyrics, a stand out being “What’s a demon to a ghetto now? Move around, heard a couple shots in my solitude, hallelu…Went right past, that’s what God’ll do.”
Kirk Knight definitely showed the world his ability to deliver hard lyrics, with well-thought out segments and high quality, but minimalist production in his debut album. I would recommend this album to any fellow Hip-Hop geek such as myself, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it has a high replay value, signaling that I will be listening to this for months to come. If you are big into the New York Hip-Hop sound, then you will want to check this out.
Favorite Tracks: “Brokeland,” “5 Minutes,” “I Know” and “Dead Friends.”