Album Review: Kap Kallous – “Grandeur”
Los Angeles-based emcee, by way of Orlando, Kap Kallous (@kapkallous) released his highly-anticipated album, titled Grandeur, back in June. It’s a 15 track album that featured guest appearances from Jon Connor, Preauxx, Caskey, Midaz The Beast, Maffew Ragazino, JBiz, Psalm One, Wrekonize, J. Gatsby, and several others. Production credits go to Optiks, ALXNDRBRWN, David Grants, Alexander O’Dell, Abbott, and Seandammit.
Although it was released through a website I don’t generally prefer (DatPiff), this is an album that you shouldn’t pass up. Seeing as how I’m a fan of Kap and have shared/reviewed past works from him, I thought I’d go ahead and review this one, too; even if I’m 4 months late. As always, I have a lot to say, so you can expect this review to be way-too-long. Read it or don’t – here are my thoughts!
01. INTRO / WELCOME TO GRANDEUR
Usually, an intro song is either a relatively short track on the album and/or a skit of some sort. For me, it’s not usually a song that I will replay over and over. That is not the case here. This is a full song, clocking in at 3 minutes. It finds Kap Kallous introducing himself to his listeners, exposing his soul-less, aggressive demeanor in his lyrics; preparing listeners with a deadly dose of what can be expected on Grandeur. “Welcome to Grandeur, your amateur hour’s over // I woke up out the coma, like where the fuck is the doja at // I bought my soul from the devil, wore it and sold it back // Said that I could keep it; I told him, homie I’m over that…”
Frequent collaborator Optiks produced this beat, and let me tell you that it is FIRE. Not that I expected any less; these two craft up the dopest songs every time they work together. The beat elicits an immediate neck-breaking reaction with a dark, humming bassline, hard-hitting kicks, rapid-fire hi-hats, and the metal ferocity of an electric guitar burning holes throughout. Love it.
Ponce Beyond comes through about halfway, to read off the definition of “Grandeur”; and a vocalist named Goldie follows Kap’s final bars with her strong, soulful “ooohhh“‘s. This is not an intro that you want to pass up–in fact, this will probably be one of your favorites on the album (as it is mine). Turn your volume way up, and leave it up for the rest of the album.
02. LAY AWAY
“Feelin’ good, good // Feelin’ great, great // Life’s a bitch; I threw that money in her face, face.” – This is the one hook that gets stuck in my head the most, haha.
Produced by ALXNDRBRWN, the beat has a slight somber vibe due to the mellow percussion and a woman’s crooning vocals weaving throughout; however, keeping it on its rap toes, are pounding kicks, snare slaps, and fluttering hi-hats. The general vibe lays the foundation for the reflective subject matter that lies within the hard exterior of Kap’s street lyricism, too. There’s a lot of honesty behind what’s going on with Kap; good and bad (“Crumbled up my dreams, and put that paper in my pocket // I’m dealin’ with some demons who been fuckin’ up my closet“).
From being raised in a city with hurricanes, problems in Florida, having went to college, possessing a strong work ethic, having good times with weed and liquor, putting dreams on the backburner, contemplating different life choices (“So, I fixate, I need this paper // Seeing where this game is goin’ // Shit, I should’ve been a skater“), trying to pay off bills, to deadly experiences, and such. I like this one. I like his message of having tough skin and striving to get what/where he wants, doing whatever it takes to get it/there. “I got a million ways to get it // A-1 credit // Ain’t no future in that layaway // Now ain’t a damn thing changed // I been counting my change // I’m just trying to get this money, mane.”
“My mind amazing, I’m trying to stay on vacation // My regular Monday night couldn’t get away with in Vegas // City lights blazing, you could get your life taken // I was, like, three places at the time of the occasion // Molly in my system, something something, Free Masons // And that’s about as relevant as fuckin’ Myspaces // While you’re at the bar, trying to muster conversations // I’ll be racing cars with Satan and Carl Sagan // I’ve been patiently waiting, so behind on my payments // Bumping this Iron Maiden, I slam my face in the pavement…”
You probably already saw the Kap Kallous-directed music video on CrayonBeats back in May. The song was produced by David Grants. The video finds Kap in an interesting room with candles lit, cracked vintage dolls in an empty bird cage, cherub statues, clown wood pieces, and such, while a fog machine swallows the space. In the lyrics, he reflects on darker, unstable times, illustrating having been through hell and harder shit. Accepting that it’s no way to live, while also expressing that he’s capable of handling what’s (been) thrown his way. All the obstacles and negative shit seems to motivate him, too. I feel like his strength through it all serves as its own lighthouse: a structure containing a beacon of light to warn or guide ships at sea. Sure, it’s not all caviar dreams and illuminating happiness, but there’s a great power and determination in Kap that allows him to row past rough waters. Hahaha, fuckin’ metaphors of mine… anyway, it’s a dope song, and his flow is backed by a lot of passion and raw life elements. I like this one, too.
04. HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW
ALXNDRBRWN and Optiks on the beat, and it’s both grimy and a little eerie, which is a superb match for Kap Kallous’ growling, intimidating delivery. He starts off not giving a damn about what you think: “And I hope you don’t like me, that’s just the way that I is // Your ho is so excited just to be a side chick // My repertoire is so up to par // You can ask around, and I’ll go retarded // My mind is on the Autobahn, and my heart is on the black market.”
This is one big “fuck what you think about me” song (there’s a lot of that on this album). Pounding his chest like King Kong, boasting where he stands in the rap game and being wanted by women. Women want him, men want to be him… that kind of thing. He comes armed with clever metaphors, sexual references, a desire to get fame, artillery in his rap catalog, and admittedly has no class… so he has no problem doing what he needs to (ie: targeting other artists), to get on the map.
05. LONELY FAMOUS (ft Jon Connor & Preauxx)
First off the bat, this is one of the hardest cuts on the album (the video matches that, too). It features verses Jon Connor and Preauxx, and the three of them all deliver! Over a gritty beat by Alexander O’Dell, Jon Connor comes in first with heavy bars, witty punchlines, a fierce flow, and loaded weapons. He aims at one-hit wonders that fall after 15-seconds of fame, old rappers, and half-stepping amateurs. “Shit’s sad, but it still happens.” Jon verbally leaves ’em black and blue, and ultimately proves why he deserves the top spot he’s in right now (having recently signed to Aftermath Ent.).
Kap Kallous is up second and, much like the previous song, he bulldozes through the beat with a hunger for fame and success… and shows that he’ll get there through great work ethic, setting high standards, and having the knowledge to know not to fuck around. The world is callin’ his name, are you hearing it? I’ve been a fan of Kap Kallous for awhile now… what’chu waiting for?
“All the words that I say gon’ pay the rent // And one day I’ll be your fuckin’ favorite // ‘Til then, I’ma kill these shows // Stunt on hoes with my b-boy pose // State by state, I’ma save these souls // ‘Til the blood in my veins went through my clothes.” “I’m a gold getter // I get dough, and I know better to // Fuck with a lonely ho that don’t better you”
I’m a big fan of contrasting voices on a (well-done) posse track, and this is a dope example. When I got to Preauxx (whom I was unfamiliar with), I was really digging his cadence, breath control, and personality on his verse. I love the way his voice bounces around, showcasing a slightly comedic, but serious attitude. His lyricism also packs some of that funny flair, while spitting with a cool, but mean tongue (which is displayed in the video, too). “How you like me now, when you thought I needed a hand out // You can smack to your damn mouth // For even having a hand out.”
“If I had a lane you could put me in // I’d probably be swervin’ // Lonely famous, man, my life would not be basic / Even though you n***** dreaded, most of y’all ain’t really Haitian // I hate we so divided, but my pay check’s multiplyin’ // It’s a bunch of actresses that really need the other side of me // I’m two X’s, no O’s…”
Jon Connor, Kap Kallous, and Preauxx are on top with this song. One of my favorites, most definitely.
06. I DON’T MIND (ft Caskey, Goldie, & Jade Lawhon)
I posted the video back in April, so I’m already familiar with the song. Produced by David Grants, the beat is driven by melancholy guitars, brass notes, and bass thumping kicks. Kap Kallous and Caskey rap about the other side of the music industry, where one must keep cool and optimistic through whatever bullshit and obstacles are handed to them. Kap puts some dark introspective thought into his verse, talking about feeling twice age sometimes, being faced with closed doors, working hard for his crown, and trying hard not to lose his mind in the process. “But I got here all on my own // No fear in all of my bones // Ozone is up in my veins // I had to bring it back home // Your bitch is throwin’ those stones // Used them to build me a throne.”
New to Caskey still, but he has a similar upsetting feeling towards the subject matter and his lyrics are up to par with Kap’s on this. He verse focuses on the subject of always having people doubt him, how he resents weak rappers getting more recognition, but despite all that, he will continue to put in work to achieve success. “Like yeah, maybe I’m just stuck with this // And my contentment for my present state // Another turn into resentment // For these feather weights who get more shine // But let’s grind, work // Sometime that’s just how it go // So don’t ask me if I give a fuck // ‘Cause it’s clear I don’t // 20 years and still goin’ on, never giving up // And the secret is that I don’t mind.”
Final verse goes back to Kap, and he wraps it all up with truthful words, personal stories, thoughts on the industry, and a clear vision. “50 grand in my bank account // That ain’t enough, ain’t enough // Just wanna make my momma proud // My pops is gone, can’t bring him back // Ain’t no price to put on that // Put my life on every track // Where I’m from and where I’m at // Told my bro ten years ago // This industry’s like robbing banks // Getting in is only half the risk // Going out, you gon’ see some things.”
I like the theme of this song: yeah, shit sucks sometimes and life is hard, but staying optimistic and knowing your self-worth will get your far/further. Nice soulful-pop hook, too.
07. PALPITATIONS (ft Midaz The Beast & Maffew Ragazino)
This song took quite a few listens for me to enjoy, because, at first, I wasn’t digging their verses sounding like they were on the phone. However, after realizing that it was intentional, with the concept lying within them talking to each other about crazy women bugging out on them, I grew to like it.
First verse goes to Midaz The Beast (I think, I’m not too familiar with his voice). My jaw dropped, saying “daaaamn,” a couple times during his lines, both out of shock and humor. He says some disrespectful things about the side chick he’s screwing, but wraps it up with some funny one-liners (ie: “Alcohol; don’t even see her face, guzzle two quarts // I’m still fuckin’ shorty, though I hate her // Threw away my calendar, ’cause I ain’t tryin’ to date her.”)
Kap Kallous follows that with an 8-bar… sing-song/rap… type of bridge (something like that) before a more soulful, singing hook (Kap does it all?). I really like the arrangement of these two sections, though, because it breaks up the rapping phone verses. Something that I do not like, though, is the background vocals that repeatedly say “she’s bugging out”, because it sounds lazy.
Kap‘s phone-style rap comes in next, where you hear him complaining about getting caught up between heartbroken whores, getting caught by wifey, and dealing with the consequences. Maffew Ragazino takes the tail end of the song.
08. TOP OFF SAUCE (FOR YOUR BITCH) (ft JBiz)
While I like the cool beat (produced by ALXNDRBRWN), and the overall summer fun concept, this song isn’t among my favorites. It was OK, but it’s one I wouldn’t play too often (perhaps because there were too many “bitch”es thrown in there for my liking), in comparison to the rest of the album. It’s still a decent, summer song, though.
09. HOUDINI CUFFS
Poof! Kap comes out the gate with “I got an ego, it’s been bothering people,” and continues to rap about the life of a hungry artist with dreams. With his usual “fuck you, if you don’t like me” attitude, Kap has a tunnel vision that lies within the game of hip hop, being around the baddest women, and eventually swimming in millions (“My lady mad at me // I wanted this more than I ever wanted a family // This the hand that they handed me // Not the person I planned to be // I planted seeds in my brain that I would get in the game, and now I’m loving it“). Not letting shit or biased opinions hold him back, he’ll break free from cuffs like Houdini. It’s a cool song, but not one that I connected to immediately (in fact, this was the last song that I came to).
10. 1000 TIMES
The content of this song kind of surprised me, which is a good thing. Kap keeps the listener on their toes by giving us a song about giving his heart away, finding himself vulnerable, and inevitably getting his heart broken. Whether this is about a relationship with a woman, or a metaphor for the music industry, this is a real, honest song about all the work, dedication, and heart that goes into a relationship, delivered in a melodic, upbeat package. “I can’t see you leave 1000 times; goodbye // Baby, I can’t see you leave 1000 times; goodbye // I want my heart back, I want my heart back from you – it’s true // I want my heart back, I want my heart back from you – from you // Can’t keep giving my love away…”
The music video has a very cool concept, that finds Kap singing with a dead band, all of them shot to the dome by a woman with a smoking gun.
11. TOO PROUD
I love the beat on this one, by David Grants. There’s a strong grunge rock feel, with all the guitar work and pounding drums. It propels the energy behind Kap’s lyricism, as he raps about being too stubborn to listen to anyone’s “lies” and/or criticism, in regards to his life or music (“My image is unacceptable, but my music respected“). I like Kap’s energy, his lyrical stance, his metaphors, and his willingness to speak on what might be considered a fault/problem. Such a dope track.
“Most people won’t get it; I’ve been running from what I don’t know // And everybody got problems, eeyyy-eyyyy // But this time it won’t go away // It’s like every morning, the sun burning through my skull – won’t let it go // Hey baby, don’t lie on me // I’m too proud for the world right now.”
12. WE GET HIGH (ft Redd Simpkins, Mygrane McNastee, & J Biz)
Kap rounds up 3 other Orlando-based rappers for a song that all smokers can get high to, no matter the setting. “Never low and never sober.” Being that I don’t partake in that particular activity, it’s difficult for me to really relate to. However, I do like the chill vibe of the song as a whole; plus, each rapper delivers solid, enjoyable lyrics. Whether you smoke weed, get drunk, or do other drugs…. this one’s for you. “I was high before, but now I’ve reached a new peak.”
This is one of the most fun and funkiest songs on the whole project. To kick it off, Optiks and Seandammit serve up a hard-hitting beat, where groovy synths shoot across dusty, chest-thumping drums, and a funky vocal chop bounces around. Referencing ODB in the hook (“Give it to me raw, shimmy shimmy ya“), Kap Kallous sets the hyper-sexual mood with dirty metaphors and straight-to-the-point lines about self-pleasure, sex, and cunnilingus.
With her cool disposition and flow, Psalm One steps up to the plate second. She spits funny bars about previously owning a Teddy Ruxpin, being domesticated with an Easy Bake oven, drinking mimosas and eating vegetarian… while also letting you know that your style “couldn’t get much rawer than this, with no condom and a coochie to kiss // It’s hologram shit.”
Last at the sushi bar, Wrekonize has top shelf bars with a price to the ceiling. While he references Spotify popularity, being surrounded by nude women, and praying to demons, he also keeps in with the raw aspect of veganism and sushi swallowing.
Loving itttt! One of my favorites. Out of curiosity for the concept, I’d be interested in seeing a video for this.
14. PAPER CUTS (ft Dude Tunes & J. Gatsby)
Chasing paper and making it rain at a strip club could give you paper cuts, yes? Both the lyrics and the music video (shown below, directed by Kap) make this song a strip club cut; or, just a good time with weed, liquor, and ladies. Produced by David Grants, the mellow beat is something you could get lost in, which I like a lot (and I think the video’s mood of a smokey, dark lit room, illuminated by color spotlights sets the perfect tone). Kap Kallous coolly raps about naked women, getting money, getting drunk, and being on an indestructible high; classic Kap. The hook is minimal in words, but the sing-song delivery, over the slight beat switch up, is catchy (“It’s okaaaaay // And I say it’s okaaaaay…”).
Never heard of Dude Tunes before, but he’s a great match for the lyrical content of this song. Continuing in the theme, he’s a rule breaker that doesn’t talk to strippers in public, that doesn’t have a budget, that reflects on the past, that smokes kush, and ponders the life of pimps and hos. “The only thing that I know is… it’s okaaaaayyyyyy.”
J. Gatsby’s verse is filled with clever pop culture references, from Boy Meets World, Mega Man, and Demolition Man. “No struggle, no story // How these rich rappers get boring,” he starts off the third verse by getting into the importance of time and a good meal to start the day. From driving with gorgeous ladies, spending time with an artist girl, taking shrooms, getting drunk at shows, and getting crazy love. One of my favorite lines: “Mega Man pen, I got an ammunition hand // Got a girl that mind fucks like Demolition Man.” So dope, haha.
I dig this song.
15. 86’D (ft Jade Lawhon)
Over a melodic piano and drum-driven beat, produced by David Grants, Kap Kallous finds himself on the cusp of midnight, in Vegas, brag rapping about his skillset and 86’ing people who oppose and/or jock him. “Let me show you how it’s supposed to be // You can follow me going out of my mind, mind, mind // But I’m doing just fine, fine fine.” I like his cadence and delivery on this song (following the rhythm of the tribal-like drum pattern), especially when he transitions between the rapping and singing parts (“People say I’m crazy, baby // Don’t believe those li-ies // If you listen to me, lady // I could change your mi-ind“). Aside from showing off and bragging about his own talents, he also picks apart those who don’t compare. I love the blend of his content with this beautiful production. Jade Lawhon comes in at the end, with a haunting rendition of a nursery rhyme. Love this one, too.
While there were a few things that I didn’t like about some tracks, and a couple that I didn’t connect with, there weren’t any songs that I absolutely hated, or thought were bad. Overall, I really enjoyed this album, and gave it a solid 4.6/5 rating. My favorite songs include: “Intro”, “Layaway”, “Lighthouse”, “Lonely Famous”, “I Don’t Mind”, “1000 Times”, “Too Proud”, “Sushi Bar”, “Paper Cuts”, and “86’d”.
I’d ask what you think about it, but Kap Kallous would say: “fuck what you think.” Be sure to catch Kap Kallous on the Â¡MURSDAY! tour with Â¡Mayday! and MURS (info, dates, and locations can be found here). It begins on October 28th, in Ohio.
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