This is Kirk Knight’s first solo offering and it really couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I flew over heads, I’m a traveling man
One sick motherfucker with a way fare plan
To eliminate the feeling of the devil on my shoulders
I remain a soldier, starving artist with composure
If X marks the spot, give me three X’s
Bare strength, hands like I hold them
More or less I mold them
I even turn my actions into diamonds if I smould ’em
Not a Simpson, but finally felt what home is
And my spirit needs fine tuning
A caveman and I’m finally a Conan”
– Heaven Is For Real by Kirk Knight
‘Late Knight Special‘ alone, with no background knowledge on the artist behind it, is good. But truthfully, it’s only just above average at best. It bangs without question, but if you’re trying to find something on Late Knight Special that you wouldn’t be able to find from any other rapper out right now, you’d have to dig deep.
You often get times when you have a new project from an artist, and it’s either unnecessary or best to not compare it to previous work. But with ‘Late Knight Special’, and all of the progression that Kirk Knight shows in, not only the lyrics or the production, but in his approach to the album as well, comparison is almost crucial.
When I first began listening to Kirk Knight in 2013, I became extremely stressed. “Is it the teenage girl in me that digs him, or is it the music that I love?” continually repeated in my mind whenever I played ‘Relaxation’ to a room full of blank stares.
Back when ‘Peep: The Aprocolypse’ was the excitement and before the Pro Era cabalists retired to promote P.E. socks and t-shirts, and tour with Joey Bada$$, Kirk Knight was probably the most overlooked in the crew for his versatility. His experimentation with different sounds in his rap and in the beats that he made stretched beyond any of the other members, which made him that much more intriguing. He was never trying to go for being the best “producer on a mic”; it’s always been about creating music with a great vibe. His ability to test out the more introspective sides of his creativity on ‘Dreams’ joined with his lighter but slightly conscious sides on ‘Early Morning Hiatus’ made for an impressive approach to ‘Late Knight Special’ two years later.
So with that being said, ‘Late Knight Special’ is what a much more polished lyricist and producer taking his listeners on a journey through his mind, experiences and surroundings would sound like; and it all worked well together.
After my first listen, my biggest question was: who was it in the Pro Era camp that told Kirk Knight to experiment with his flow the way he did? Because it’s golden, and it wouldn’t be a bad decision for him tap into that a lot more. With the actual bars, it’s interesting seeing his development over the years. He’s never been lame, but he hasn’t been the dopest either. On ‘Late Knight Special’ we get a better picture of exactly what Kirk can do. In the same way, his flow has never been anything weak, but on this it’s really been highlighted in the biggest ways, and I’d like to believe that that was the plan he had going into LKS. He has just announced that he’s going to be working with The Underachievers for a while and, for more growth and more experimentation in his music, the move is smart.
A very conceptual rapper is what I was drawn to on my very first glimpse of Kirk Knight ever; and only on the third track ‘Brokeland’ is there the perfect example of how Kirk Knight can be described as this. The wordplay in the title is dope, and how he shows how his city’s plight is so closely related to money is interesting to hear from Kirk Knight. This is probably the best song on LKS if I’m being completely honest: there are elements that have never been heard in any of Kirk Knight’s music that were almost perfectly executed, along with his intense delivery.
Another joint that carried a similarly interesting vibe is ‘5 Minutes’ featuring Joey Bada$$, a song reminiscent of ‘Big Dusty’, which was the last track that Joey and Kirk worked on together. Again, the delivery from Kirk on this joint is beastly and at some parts have that definite Method Man influence seeping through.
More dope tracks worth mentioning are ‘Knight Time’; ‘Scorpio’; ‘All For Nothing‘; ‘Dead Friends’ and ‘I Know’ just because the Noname Gypsy and Mick Jenkins features were unexpected but good additions on slower tracks that they were comfortable on and worked really well together on. For a first project, the features weren’t overpowering – he got the right balance.
The KREEPER has always shown his enjoyment for spitting on a miscellany of topics over a variety of unique beats, but on this project he really showed his ability to do it well. The matured and, at times, even philosophical subject matter covered almost everything from the gangsta mentality and competitiveness gained from enduring hood lifestyles, to romance and making it in the industry all on your ace.
The overall album structure allowed for him to fit the different sounds he olayed with on this without creating a chaotic or uncomfortable atmosphere on the album; if anything, the variations made it easier to listen to. From the faster and more upbeat production and harder delivery gradually progressing to the slower, more laid back production makes the structure of the album a stand-out feature of ‘Late Knight Special.’
This is the first time we’ve been given something to listen to that could give us a better picture of who Kirk Knight is as a rapper, and Late Knight Special solidified him as a well-rounded hip-hop artist with his debut album. Even in all of its glory though, even a KREEPER fan from day one, I would be surprised to see this make any top 10 lists; not because of what it doesn’t have but because, if we had to look at it relative to the other work coming out in 2015, a lot of other albums were much better than this.
But what do you think? Is there still the hint of amateurish rap styles from a few years ago or do you dig this?