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Kembe X Gets Personal & Explores New Sounds on Hippie Sabotage-Produced “Sleep Paralysis” (Album Review)

Chicago, Illinois emcee & Top Dawg Entertainment affiliate Kembe X returning for his 3rd full-length album produced by Sacramento duo Hippie Sabotage & his first in nearly 5 years. Getting his start over a decade ago with the debut EP Soundtrack II Armageddon & the debut mixtape Self Rule, his profile would continue to grow off the strength of the debut LP Talk Back as well as an eponymously titled 2nd EP & the sophomore effort I Was Depressed Until I Made This. He’s worked with the Saurer brothers a few times in the past, but they’re finally releasing Sleep Paralysis after working on it for a whole year.

“Fade the Sun” starts us off with a lively danceable opener telling anyone who wants a piece of him to get in line whereas “Pole Vaulting” hops over a trap instrumental to talk about being over the bullshit. “King” works in a more rubbery beat to remind y’all that he’s royalty around these parts prior to the synth-driven “Love Songs” taking a melodic approach talking about never seeing a king of romance that went wrong.

To end the first half, “Shallow” brings a cloudier vibe to the table wanting to be called a visionary who did it first when it’s all said & done while the atmospheric “Where Demons Come to Die” admitting he damn-near lost his soul & sacrificed his peace. “Kill Everything in the Way” declares himself as the new leader of the resistance over a slow boom bap beat just before the wavy “Rolling Stoned” featuring Isaiah Rashad talks about keeping it cold, fresh & clean.

One of my favorites on the album no question has to be “Start a Business” from the groovy instrumental to the motivational lyricism encouraging people to start up their own businesses since they can’t be employees for the middle man forever & finally, “Baby I’m Up” concludes Sleep Paralysis with a 7 & a half minute ode to his success after people tried to leave him for dead & drag his name through the mud.

TDE’s been slowly but surely allowing the biggest artists on their roster to release new music in recent years after making their fans wait forever, so it makes perfect sense for Kembe to make a comeback & one that new listeners will find themselves invested in. He’s exploring new sounds with the help of Hidden Sabotage & the subject matter is significantly more personal than his early stuff was.

Score: 8/10



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