Kojey Radical’s Reason to Smile is an album of many faces. A soulful ode to family and heritage, a polemic against the ills of modern society, and a self-congratulation from a rapper reaching a personal and artistic peak.
The album starts with its title track, entering with a gorgeous neo-soul guitar arrangement, later accompanied by uplifting vocals from Tiana Major9. Radical’s lyrics set up the omnipresent theme of overcoming internal and external pressure. ‘Is he up? / Is he next? / Who knows? / Who cares? / Felt ten pound lighter when I let go of my fears’.
The impact of fame is explored on the song ‘Pressure’, making the listener question how they would act under the duress of the public eye: ‘How you gonna act when the cameras flash? / Would you strike a pose, Would you double back?’
You can hear, throughout, Kojey reflecting on social ills and the cutthroat nature of the music industry. These criticisms culminate on the track ‘Pusher Man’, where he compares the ethos of the industry to that of organised crime.
The seamless fusion of genre is a breathtaking aspect of RtS, allowing its hip-hop foundations to be the basis of a diverse musical journey. From the atmospheric R&B on ‘Anywhere’ to the afro bashment of ‘Born’, this variety is enhanced by the colourful array of features, from jazz producers Blue Lab Beats to grime legend Wretch 32.
Reason to Smile as a debut makes my mouth water for what is to come next. It is indicative of Radical’s potential to transform the whole rap game.
Kojey Radical’s Reason to Smile was released 4th March by Atlantic Records UK