Patience by Ka
written by Dan-O
At most social events I run into that one guy. That guy who with a light buzz going wants to tell me about the sorry state of hip hop. He explains that it’s a lean sipping suicide pact between tight jeaned hooligans making songs so they can hook up with chicks on twitter.
He’s always been there, at every stage of hip hops development, he’s missing an earlier mythical stage. Being a socially constructive dude I’m always looking for ways to refute him without just telling him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Ka is the answer. Hip hop does not define itself on that most popularized one percent and the persona’s they adopt. Ka is a Brownsville MC who while spitting for 20 years finally put together his own album called Iron Works in 2008. His style doesn’t fit the radio, his delivery is a hoarse whisper and his rhymes are cunningly worded street tales. Initially this was going to be something for friends and family. According to his website bio Ka believes “You make art because you can’t help it” so when he made Iron Works it wasn’t to hit key demographics it was to get the rhymes out of his head.
Iron Works passed from friends hands into GZA’s and he was impressed, giving him a spot on the song Firehouse from GZA’s 2008 Protools album. After long years of grinding it’s all paying off for Ka. In 2012 he released Grief Pedigree to rave reviews from Spin, Complex, and his peers (Sean Price named it as one of his favorite albums of all time). It was my favorite album of 2012(that’s right, over Good Kid, MAAD City).
When people call Ka a throwback artist it kind of bothers me. He produces all of his own music and none of it sounds like anything from an earlier era…its actually more sparse than the golden or silver ages. Early hip hop beats were still based on disco and had dance creation as a key mission statement, even further down the line from that no DITC or Boot Camp Clik record was ever as naked and pulsing as a Ka beat.
The song Patience is my favorite on Iron Works and one of my favorite songs in all of hip hop, the drum beat smacks lightly behind his narration. It’s about being strong enough to force your anger into productive energy. A gang of street kids provoke Ka as he’s using all his energy to go straight. “It’s the remarks when I pass talking all smart and fast got me ready to stomp out or spark they @$$ just trying to earn a living, soldier turned civilian, to blend in studied discovery channel to learn chameleon. To hold down my little maintenance job but it’s dangerous hard…” The same way all those years of being ignored tested his patience he clinches his teeth and works out, avoiding the battle until he can’t take it anymore. At the end of the song he confronts the group, cluing them into who they have been dealing with “Ya’ll boys is the bait type if I bring the noise ya take flight. Couldn’t survive a ’85 late night. When I swum the seas I was the great white. Don’t make me kamikaze this corner, cause I know you pun-any, a bunch of performers. You must be confused by the uniform…but I know how to use tools and do you wrong.” He asks who wants to go first and then the song ends.
Hip hop gives people like Ka the chance to share their stories with anyone who can find them. Its definition is not the top layer or the bottom but all the fables that sustain it. When I first heard Ka beg that gang of kids not to make him kamikaze the corner the hairs on my arm stood up. Because that line is dope and I’ll never forget it. That’s the answer.
check out more Ka stuff at http://www.brownsvilleka.com/ or follow him on twitter.