Mixtape Review-Kidnapped by Wara from The NBHD
Artistic intelligence is in the craft. In hip hop it’s the ability to create density dexterity or engaging content while delivering it in a way people will understand. The best rappers of all time are often called overrated because their artistic intelligence is so high that they say what they mean in a way their audience understands simply. The concepts, the emotional dimensions aren’t.
It wasn’t until the second listening of Kidnapped that I truly became aware of its eye opening brainpower. During that listen I spent a while looking up who produced the project because I had a hard time believing what every site reported; that Wara was in fact the MC and producer. The mastermind behind the dynamic synth and fuzzy guitar of F*ck You Mean/Composure should really only do that. In a year where the production soundscape in hip hop has thinned beyond comfortability Kidnapped is a diamond. While each song uses disparate elements impressively each element is placed in the center of the spotlight. The baselines crash and destroy or like the intro Get In the piano becomes the core and everything grows around it. As beautifully designed as the beats are the synthetic sound or guitar or high hats are always coated with dirt that match the grime of petrifying street life that our narrator walks us through.
This isn’t as grimey and poetic an experience as the deep dark hole someone like Ka will take you down and sometimes that is a plus. His lyrics are direct without losing depth and stick to the roof of your mind memorable “I survive cause I connive with a whole lot of guns plus I got lucky my connect had a lot of tons. I know why you hustle cause you want them new Jordan 1’s trust me lil Pete this ain’t the place or the time for that. Trying to be like me…well that ain’t gon’ get you far, there’s better things to do plus you got handles play basketball (Slangin’),” a few seconds after the end of this portion he loudly proclaims “You think I like this sh_t?!?! You think I like how I’m living?!” he details how miserable it is to run from cops like a loser. No part of this mixtape makes you feel like selling crack is cool or fun or something you would do if you had the option to do anything else. In fact the point of Kidnapped is damn right it sucks for you to be hooked on my dope, it sucks I have to sell it.
Rarely is a mixtape not a second too long but at eleven tracks with a nine minute finale (Gone Baby Gone) this one is perfect. The sequencing is designed to give you re-listenable speaker blowing nighttime music or as Wara puts it on the track Squeal (Peel Off) “The soundtrack for a bunch of N’s who crotch holding.” These songs drop in every few tracks to keep your adrenaline where it needs to be while maintaining 1993 Mobb Deep content and snarl. After hearing so many dope lyrical mixtapes with flat production and so many wasted beats playing behind dudes rhyming the same words against each other; Kidnapped is utterly refreshing. I’m excited to listen to it again.
Stream or download Kidnapped below: