Local Love: Kay JayKay Jay, Photo: Courtesy of Artist/Facebook
When I’m outside of Houston, I’ll occasionally hear from those who feel like Houston’s hip hop scene isn’t as prolific as it was fifteen years ago. However, when I drop more names than some rappers drop mix tapes, they usually realize how wrong they are about our city. One artist that I’ve kept an eye on recently, is Houston’s Kay Jay. The rapper mixes hints of Houston’s past while keeping things more current at the same time. His rhyme flow was top notch the first time I witnessed him spit on a mic, and on his new album, “Tees, Trees, and MP3’s,” he proves that not only is Houston’s hip hop scene still growing strong, it’s also filled with plenty of fresh faces that can carry it into the future.
The rapper wastes no time in kicking things off with a proper jam on “Top Spot.” Opening with a classic hip hop piano riff, the beats kick in strong while the MC spits a quick flow that comes off like a freestyle in its quickness. The track has the feel of a single, like one of those jams that you blast out your windows on a muggy Houston night. The beauty of the track is that alongside being hook heavy, it has the kind of pop that keeps it in your head while the chorus lingers after it’s done. He follows this with the repetitive track, “Take It To The Bank.” Complete with a Southern rap synth and piano mixture, the song is a great follow up track, and keeps the album bumping. It’s highlighted with the rapper’s quick mic style while the track slowly creeps in the background. On the third song, “Hater Maker,” you get the sensibility that Kay Jay has been paying attention to the past of hip hop while keeping an eye on the future. Starting with a tremolo heavy guitar and a snappy beat, the MC flows slower than before, but keeps the rhythm going strong with his easy going mic skills.
The fourth track, “Green and Purple” showcases the past of Houston’s hip hop world of mixing lean and weed. The song has background vocals that have been chopped and screwed, but it’s not full frontal on the track, which makes it a nice addition without hindering the song’s pace. The following three tracks however stretch the rapper’s legs and put him in a different place than on the rest of the release. The found sound style synths of “Hickory Dikory” with an almost footwork beat sounds different than pretty much anything else happening in Houston right now. The way the song is performed keeps it Southern in style, but the background beats and synths are definitely something else. “Addicted” comes in after, and the much slower feel of the track makes it come off more like a ballad, but Kay Jay pulls it off with ease.
He closes the album out with the guitar heavy “Guardian Angel,” where the MC employs an almost falsetto voice and adds a depth that you don’t always hear in hip hop. While it stays on the slow side of things, Kay Jay definitely takes things to a different place and keeps his flow as hard as he does throughout the rest of the album. You can pick up your own copy of the album tomorrow, December 11th on all of the usual digital outlets including Spotify. Give it a spin and make sure to keep your eyes on Kay Jay. Because if he keeps dropping releasing albums like this, then his name will be one you won’t want to forget.