London collective Young Kings and Old Princes are a pretty unique bunch, breathing a breath of fresh air into a scene in which aggressive and in your face music is commonplace. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but balance is key in the hip hop game, and this EP from Zak is a dope collection of honest lyricism over chilled, calm and cool instrumentals.
From the jazzy keys and the crunchy drums of the intro, it’s instantly apparent what kind of ride we’re in for on ‘Closer’. Zak’s unorthodox flow and style of delivery catch my attention straight away on ‘Express’, which has a subtle instrumental with enough space for Zak to drop his introspective verses, which land with real intensity and purpose.
The diverse yet cohesive beat choices found throughout ‘Closer’ make for a project that sounds very much together. The emotional keyboard and thumping electronic drums of ‘It’s Not Enough’, combined with some very effective harmonies make this a real standout. These soulful, melodic offerings set Zak and the YK & OP collective apart from their peers, with instantly recognisable instrumentals, such as the one found on ‘Gettin’ Cold/Foes’ which shows a hint of a garage influence, being incredibly suited to Zak’s vocal style and content.
‘3rd Party’ is another example of ‘Closer’ being an EP where boundaries are being pushed. This spacey instrumental features a very professional sounding hook and tightly delivered lyrics, with Zak riding the beat confidently. It’s clear that Young Kings and Old Princes are not afraid to try their hand at all forms of hip hop, and they pull it off again and again.
‘Closer’ isn’t packed with typical boom bap beats and screwface inducing punchlines. This is a cohesive, honest and personal project, and Zak’s approach is unique and convincing. Check this out for a slice of homegrown hip hop that is different from a lot of the music out there at the moment, and it’s definitely worth supporting.
By Sam Bennett