RTKAL is a Birmingham based artist with an eclectic and varied style who has been steadily building his buzz for a number of years now, with some past releases through the reputable Eat Good Records. ‘Skunk Rock’ is a mixtape release, available for free download, that showcases his Reggae infused hip-hop stylings, with some well suited production and a rare diversity that is refreshing and enjoyable.
‘Money Shot’ is a dope introduction, with RTKAL demonstrating his cocky and confident delivery, something which remains consistent throughout the ‘Skunk Rock’ mixtape. His ‘Ain’t On Nuttn’ freestyle follows, and the energy and direction he takes on the track makes it stand out when put next to some of the already established remix versions of Yungen and Sneakbo’s collaboration.
The uptempo Jamaican influence makes ‘Skunk Rock’ and RTKAL’s style easily identifiable. ‘Kan’t Kill Energy’ is a prime example, with a percussive beat and charismatic vocal making the track a success. Occasionally some of the tracks on here fade into the background; the restrained ‘Only 4 2night’ and the minimalistic ‘Run Bo Ya’ are somewhat forgettable. RTKAL is never far away from bringing the levels back up though, as ‘La Dutty Kruff’ shows his hip-hop sensibilities with raw production and an intense delivery.
The Flying Lotus dub ‘Feels’ shows how RTKAL can shine on left-field, futuristic electronic production. The scope and range of musical directions explored on ‘Skunk Rock’ make the project consistently interesting; even though not everything on this tape works (Chemtrails, for example, is bit of a mess), it’s never boring.
‘Skunk Rock’ is definitely an enjoyable listen. RTKAL flicks around sonically, and it’s rare that an artist does so with quite as much of a range. The production, when original, is pretty decent, and RTKAL’s choice of dubs and remixes suits his tone and style of delivery. He’s definitely at his best when he’s vocalling with intent and energy; the slower moments on this project do fall flat as they’re just not as memorable as, and lack the impact of, his more uptempo side. Overall though, definitely worth checking out.
By Sam Bennett