by Dan O
One of my very favorite podcast personalities of 2022 is elite rapper Midaz The Beast. On the Phracyde-LabCabinCalifornia ep of Making Illmatic Midaz made a great point. While the first song on an album gives you the world of it (or should) the second track…gotta be hard. Midaz says once you set the world track 2 is “I RAP MF” and needs to be that way. The second song on AKAI SOLO’s new album Spirit Roaming is undeniable proof of the hypothesis. It’s ice cold water to a dreary face. Track 1 is dope. Cudi starts with a thought provoking audio clip that feeds elegantly into a minute and forty seconds of razor sharp rapping that gets into how it feels to wake up banged up on a futon or clear Manhattan street blocks with your aura. Near the end Theravada’s beat gets fuzzed out and AKAI gets louder, more emphatic. Mob Psycho 100 snatches the ears and pulls us even closer. You start to realize that Spirit Roaming isn’t an intensely artistic album teaching you about art, its an intensely artistic album teaching you about all possible meanings of war. AKAI spits succinct life lessons “Most of these heroes have horns..” and “The operation is usually doomed as soon it ceases being inclusive.” The key point is that our narrator has a murderers delivery tearing down each bar to erect a new one while our collective jaws gape and it makes the jokes even funnier. On Mob Psycho 100 he spits “Finish shit like I’m not worried about the toilet paper inventory. Don’t got to hold anything in.” TwentyFifthNight hits a tight jangling loop that might be too herky jerky for some but AKAI builds with the herky jerky like Katsushika Hokusai built around Mt. Fuji, as a flow to keep you in awe of the vastness within the overall space. As listeners we get constantly surprised by a driver switching speeds.
The other key lyrical component besides life lessons and humor is surreal imagery from a potent imagination. You MUST listen all the way to the end of For A Few “Set a deadline and I missed it off the view, may joy find us at the end of the path. Entrenched in the jaws of dragons my rap sits for a few.” The potency of this image outside of our practical reality is ill alone but Spirit Roaming is about war. War on your own inertia “Cats clawing at the door looking for a new opus. Shit, I’m looking for it too(Musashi),” abusive forces in the world, and on the track. Each track has AKAI moving viciously, full of adrenaline rearranging schemes like on Demonslayer “Catch me at the skirmish lurking, spitting something fancy curbside with the curvature like cursive.” Even when he makes a reference to Preservation on the Preservation produced song Red Butterfly it might not hit you that way because he is SOOO serious “Based on how it chose to be. These moments integral inherent to the whole wheel no matter how brief. GT runs without respite. Surefire way to sour your reserves. Preservation is peak.”
Every available spoken word is a power punch on Spirit Roaming, no jabs. Look at the production list: August Fanon, Preservation, ibliss, Animoss, Roper Williams & Driveby, argov, Wifigawd the absolute top of this world. While Armand Hammer appear on the last song produced by the great Messiah Musik, my mind calls this a bonus track. In my head this album ends with my favorite song Iron Galaxy where Animoss provides heavy Star Wars boom bap that AKAI destroys. He says “I’m the fulcrum of my alliance” I NEVER GET TO SAY FULCRUM! By the time woods comes on to start Upper Room it feels like the war has settled, thick dusty fog over the battlefield. It’s too early to wonder, but I wonder if Spirit Roaming will stand as one of the best underground albums of this five or ten year period? It’s the best sounds and the best writing unapologetically married. Something to continue studying.