Kay L.A. – Baltimore Moesha – Album Review
Kay! Has it really been nearly three full years already?
I tell ya this much…if you don’t know her name by this point, ya should – and secondly, if you don’t know about Kay L.A.’s artistic awesomeness by now, hopefully you can at least peep the credits and see that her new record, like the last EP I reviewed called Summer In LA, is released through the I Wright Music label. Y’all know what that means – that label is synonymous with quality artists and music, straight up. Among the real champions you’ll find in that whole family & community of creative talent collaborating together, you’ll find Kay right there at the top of the class leading the way as one of the most bulletproof & all-out reliable. “You know who the realest is” – as she’ll tell ya herself. Believe me – she ain’t wrong. True to form, she excels from start to finish on her debut full-length record Baltimore Moesha – and was there really ever any doubt that she would? This fine lady was born to level-up at every opportunity.
As the soulful sounds start to slide through your speakers as “No Fear” begins, Kay L.A. has got the longest cut on her record as track #1 – and while that’d often be a risk for most out there, in this instance, it’s simply more of her to love, you feel me? She puts poetry to work, that’s the reality. And the music surrounding her? Absolutely sensational. If you wanna hear a master-class on how to generate interest straight off the drop, “No Fear” is pretty much the blueprint, full-stop. You’ve got the fully mesmerizing glow of the music with its jazzy sax & bass-lines leading the way…that perfect beat alongside her…just that right hint of digital enhancement to the whole vibe – it sounds like 3 a.m. in the studio, red light is on, and Kay came in to do what she does so very well. From the catchy rhythm of the chorus hooks, to the way she balances out her X-factor talent with professionalism throughout the verses – “No Fear” is a verifiable master-class in ‘what else could you possibly want?’ type-music y’all. A sensational mix of conscious Hip-Hop and classy R&B/Soul – Kay L.A. walks the path of her predecessors, and when she reaches the end, she keeps on going, advancing the entire game through her hybrid vibes. Impressive don’t even cover it – Kay came out with a statement cut that reveals just how charismatic and real she can be – she’s got all the juice you wanna hear in an entertainer with that inspired spark, but “No Fear” is also every bit as gripping for the way she communicates & spits her thoughts with such precision and passion combined. When the main music in this track keeps it on the mellow side of sound, Kay’s moving at whatever speed she wants to, commanding the mic with presence & style, and an unfiltered, honest perspective of her own that stands out – it makes for a seriously cool experience to listen to from start to finish, and even though I suppose it’d technically be categorized as some kind of slow jam of sorts…I dunno…to me, there are so many things going for “No Fear” that still make it a single-worthy candidate for sure. Endlessly appealing, undeniably professional, supremely confident – Kay L.A. sounds like all of this & more as she sets the standards way up high at the very beginning of her new album Baltimore Moesha – and if you know her music, that’s EXCITING – because you know she’s never gonna let the standards drop and simply continue to excel from here on in, which she does, 100%.
“Love Letters Are Confetti” could probably use an extra bump or two in the overall volume, but big deal – turn it up yourselves. Less than a minute in length, this is the kind of cut that gives you insight into Kay L.A. beyond the words – listen to the poetry – listen to the fact there’s not a single note, tone, or beat surrounding her, and you’re right on the edge of your seat listening to her every word, fully captivated. Make no mistake y’all – she’s more than capable of handling her business without any music whatsoever – and to me, the fact that she’s willing to put what’s essentially Spoken Word art straight into the spotlight for a minute…call me crazy, but it’s the kind of move that really shows her artistry at work, and that she’s thinking about creating an experience that moves you in a variety of ways well beyond any kind of typical hooks. “Love Letters Are Confetti” might be seriously short, but it’s every bit of a reveal of the real artist Kay L.A. is at her core – she doesn’t even NEED music at the end of the day! She’s entirely able to keep us locked on her words and the gritty imagery & evocative thoughts she’s written without any support at all – if this doesn’t clue you into how special she really IS, then you’re missin’ it.
THANK-YOU Kay! You’re proving a point I try to make so many times on these pages of ours with the inclusion of “Give.” **hops up on old-man soapbox** You see kiddos, back in MY day, we respected the EP and singles for exactly what they were intended to be all along – these are the tools to BUILD albums from – and if you’ve got a great song that’s previously been released, don’t be afraid to include it ANYWAY if it fits. Be like Kay. Kay gets it. “Give” appeared on her previous Summer In LA EP from back in the day…I’d have to give that past version a spin to know for sure, but from what it sounds like to me, it slid right into this lineup on Baltimore Moesha like it was meant to be here all along. It’s a strong cut without question, has incredible hooks you’ll remember, and also ends up being the track that kicks off a series of guest-stars you’ll find popping up throughout the lineup of songs, with FinagoBaby rockin’ the mic in the mix for ya. It was a great song back when I first heard it, it’s still every bit as fresh now as it was then, and perhaps above all things, I think it was extremely wise to include it – “Give” is just a great song, that’s facts. Read my original thoughts on it from 2018 when I reviewed Kay’s Summer In LA EP by clicking here if you feel so inclined – trust me when I tell ya, this cut proves she’s always had the magic.
I’m 100% all about these short less than a minute tracks she’s got on this record like “Love Letters Are Confetti” from earlier on, and “GoodNight Sleep” – but there’s not a doubt in my mind they gotta come up a bit volume-wise to match the levels of the music surrounding these cuts a bit more than they do now. Other than that though, like I said earlier on, I feel like these short tracks really help you get to know the Kay behind the scenes, who she is, what she’s all about – the ARTIST she IS – through poetic moments like “GoodNight Sleep,” perhaps even more than any of the full-length music-based cuts do. “The fire in your heart could commit arson” is one of the best lines in any cut I’ve heard this year…that’s visceral stuff right there y’all – Kay’s got a genuine gift with words, and as she keeps’em flowin’ with precision and artistic integrity intact from start to finish in these short tracks, she continually impresses. She’s the real deal dear readers, dear friends – she’s a fearless warrior of words that has no qualms about saying exactly what she wants to say, exactly how she wants to say it – and I’ve got nothing BUT love for that. You can hear the ambience in the background…I’d venture a guess that these short cuts are recorded via different means than what we hear in the music-based tunes…I think we’re a bit more forgiving than Kay might be giving us credit for in that regard – these words are amazing, so turn it UP.
Brilliant. Straight up, brilliant. “Dreamers” is Kay at her sparkling best – this is single-worthy sound from start to finish, and an all-out irresistible cut on Baltimore Moesha that flexes a ton of uniqueness and dimension in her sound. Really, when you listen to a cut like this, you can hear how effective the vocals and what’s happening in the background with the music all plays such a significant role in providing an all-encompassing vibe that has Kay sounding in full control as the premier artist she was destined to be. For real though – this ain’t all that distant of a cousin to stuff you’d hear in the music of Frou Frou or the other stuff you know from Imogen Heap…it’s got that vibrant bounce to it, a high degree of imagination at its core, stunning vocals, and a ton of light & love in the mix for ya. While this will be the last track on the record that you hear Kay take solo before a whole stroll through several collaborations to follow – she will go on to close it down on her own with “Up” at the very end – but the point is, she’s more than able to start bringing these collaborations in with confidence, because you can’t outshine this star y’all. “Dreamers” is all the proof any set of ears would ever need to know that Kay L.A. has got something special that the rest just don’t – I think she did a spectacular job on this song from its concept to the execution & final results…thematically, this is right on-point and hits the target like Robin Hood splittin’ the arrow. It really IS for the “Dreamers” out there…you dedicated lovers…you beautiful daydreamers – the uplifting vibes of this song are as appealing to the heart as they are to your ears – Kay’s an authentic superstar in the making – yes, but it’s tracks just like this one here that prove she’ll absolutely get there. Everything about “Dreamers” stands out for all the right reasons – it’s a completely sensational track, sung with a soulful dose of real swagger, style, and empowered confidence – I love everything about it! More importantly, YOU will too – the inspired & radiant sound Kay’s locked onto her is 100% universal.
“DDm On Love” – dig this too – and of the short cuts on this record, the levels are the most in-line with the rest here…I wasn’t reaching for more volume this time around, it’s all right where it should be. You get an appearance by Dapper Dan Midas on the mic here to provide the wisdom you’re hearing – and this guy GETS IT…no joke, listen to his words, you can’t help but realize just how much knowledge & real-life experience is put forth here in just ninety-seconds or so. Grounded & down to earth as it gets, “DDm On Love” talks direct, and lays out the realities of life & love, insightfully explaining that for all the greatness a relationship can provide, the downsides can of course be every bit as equally devastating. Essentially, as extreme as the highs can be, the lows can be the same in the opposite direction – and once you’ve experienced both, as “DDm On Love” goes onto explain, it’s tough to want to seek that out sometimes after you’ve felt the shock of the lows hit you at full force in the past…but it ain’t worth giving up on either. It’s closer to the kind of ‘skit’ or ‘intro’ tracks you find on Hip-Hop/Rap records than perhaps the more artistically-inclined approach in Kay’s shorter cuts, but in the end, no less poetic at the end of the day; sure it’s a different artist leading the way, with a different style of communicating his thoughts, but if you put these words on paper, you’d still see the truth, conviction, and poetry to it all. Think of poetry like a metaphor in this kind of context…that poetic concept of hearing an artist in their element, that kind of thing…that’s what you get out of “DDm On Love” – while it sounds like a serious conversation, because it IS…there’s still poetry in motion happening with regards to the craft at work.
For a BRIEF moment there, I was worried! Took about twenty-seconds or so before I clued in to what was going on with “How You Feel” and the low-end kicked in – up to that point, I was like, ‘hmmm – this sounds abnormally thin in the mix’ lol – but hey y’all, you can do whatever ya like in an intro as long as it all snaps into place at some point afterwards like it should, which this track does without hesitation as it surges into yet more single-worthy sound. Teaming up with Elle Cook in collaboration, they hit this track with everything they’ve got and deliver flawlessly, getting right to the heart of a song that highlights the divide we so often experience in relationships where one person is doin’ a whole lot more talkin’ than the other is. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about – unless you’ve been extremely lucky in love, chances are, you’re gonna find a whole lot of words you can relate to right here in “How You Feel.” The main hooks are super strong & memorable, the lead & background vocals work perfectly together, Kay crushes bars hard…and the versatility, rhythm & groove you’ll find in the roll through the majority of the whole second minute is audibly spectacular in every way. All-in-all though, you’re not gonna find many people complaining about anything they hear on “How You Feel” – it gets to the heart of the complexities of communication when it comes to our thoughts, feelings & emotions, and just how incredibly hard all these things can be to share with someone, or reciprocated in the exact way we want. At its core – “How You Feel” really flexes an important message that many people need to hear, shining a light on how crucial it is to open up the lines of communication as much as possible in a relationship, and keep’em open at all times. We’ve all been with that one person that shuts right down and holds it all in…Kay and Elle remind you there’s a better way to approach the situation than that, that’ll yield more positive results in your long-term lovin’ – so strap those headphones on, and pay some attention!
I maintain…the short cuts on this record are moments you cannot miss out on. “Commitment” might even be the best of the bunch – I gotta say, of the less-than-a-minute tracks on Baltimore Moesha, the performance put in here by Chris Cassius reveals a master-class on passion & precision at work. Every time he reaches that pivotal line of “I’m from a place of survival” – you feel this track immediately take its most significant turn into its serious, thought-provoking words and imagery – you feel every word of this cut, and that’s really what it all comes down to. There’s not all that much time to make an impression on the inside of any given minute y’all – it’s about how you put that time to use, and this is a magnificent example of how to do it right in a way that makes a memorable impact through performance. There’s real art at work on the mic running all throughout this album, and I’m lovin’ it. A further examination of the ups/downs of life, relationships, love, and all the struggles in between – you can hear how these short tracks provide even more strength to the real cohesion in Baltimore Moesha.
Enlisting Tracksmith to lend an assist on “IDC” – Kay L.A. returns in the finest of forms, instantly sounding as alluring as ever as this track starts to send out its soulful vibes. She’s taking over an existing acronym…that was probably the biggest surprise to me here – as far as I knew, “IDC” meant “I don’t care” didn’t it? I can’t keep up to all this stuff anyway…I’m not even really on the Gram yet, which tells ya exactly how far behind I’ve become in trying to keep up to modern-day tech and the words people are actually using – but anyhow, I’ll take this definition happily instead. In this instance, “IDC” stands for “it don’t compare” – and Kay’s detailing the strength of love in the present verses love in the past, as accurately & brilliantly as she always does, of course. She’s also highlighting “the difference between a ho and a wife” and what true loyalty is really all about – Kay’s looking to ride or die when it comes to love, and ready to commit based on what she’s found here in this song. When you know, you know – that’s the best way anyone could put it – that’s what real love is all about…when “IDC” to anything else you’ve ever known, or ever will again. It comes with a confidence that sounds exactly like what you hear in this song, emphasized by Tracksmith’s bars in the middle of this cut…real love is unbreakable, and it’s just something you take with you everywhere you go. No ring on a finger is ever going to reveal just how off the market someone really is like wearing the confidence of loyalty & love at its maximum strength. “IDC” gets right into the thick of what that unbreakable bond is all about…and the fact that it takes place between the people involved & that’s it, that’s all – the rest around ya, is just noise. We tend to get caught up in all the outside opinions & judgments of others – but real love breaks through all that stuff…the only opinions of what’s happening in a relationship that matter belong to those actually in it. While things are clearly moving quickly in the storyline of this song for Kay L.A. – like I said, when you know, you know – and she’s detailed the experience of what falling in love is really like perfectly – “IDC” to anything else, and she’s nailed that feeling throughout the vibe at the heart of this whole song.
The closest I came to perhaps being on the fence about any one cut and its inclusion on this record was probably “Say It” – and ultimately, there are still a million things to love about it. Stylistically, I think it’s just the furthest removed from my own personal taste, nearly leaning towards a more Rihanna-esque vocal-rhythm pattern that drives the majority of this song’s hooks & vibe. Don’t get it twisted & don’t get me wrong – the quality hasn’t dropped an inch when it comes to the performances by either Kay or guest-star T. Ali – and I wouldn’t be the least surprised if there was a ton of you out there that might even feel like this was the BEST song on the record too, you dig? That’s the whole thing about music and how we listen to it y’all – we all get something different out of it – I get to the slick production in the music around the 1:25 mark of this song and it’s pretty much all I wanna ever hear again – but yeah, I can acknowledge that a track like “Dreamers” is probably more suited to what I’d personally seek out on the regular. Will you feel the same as I do? Who knows!?! Maybe you will, maybe you won’t – we all have our favorites & what connects to us – if you told me that “Say It” was your jam and the best cut on this record, you’d get no argument from me. Listening to the way they hit these lines & bars with such precision and stylistic movement certainly has major appeal to it & an inherent catchiness of its own as they snap right into the beat…it’s got a mesmerizing & hypnotic vibe goin’ on through the vocals and some extremely clever moves being made in the music too – don’t get me wrong, the entertainment ain’t lacking here whatsoever, and the professionalism, focus, and passion on this album never relents.
“I don’t do traditional” – that’s the truth y’all – Kay’s unique, special, and born to make music as far as I’ve ever been able to tell…she’s got the X-factor through & through, and she knows exactly how to put it to work, which she’ll prove yet again on “Say My Name.” Chris Cassius makes a second appearance on the record, this time in action with music surrounding him – and he puts in another significant highlight onto Baltimore Moesha…this dude has an incredible grip on the m-i-c and knows how to put passion straight into every syllable. I think Kay’s right on target here…I’ve always believed it – we ARE gonna be saying her name, worldwide if she keeps this up. From the immaculate bass-line grooves that come with this cut, the tight jazzy beat it possesses, the brilliant harmonies and backing vocals, the inspired lead from Kay…”Say My Name” just hits different, you feel me? In the right way, don’t get it twisted. There’s something about this track that you won’t find on any other track from this record in that intangible, indefinable way – you just feel it, it’s a vibe. The balance of strengths here is impeccable – Kay starts it up with soul & style for miles, and Chris brings it home with swagger & confidence to finish it all off – these two are all-star talents on the mic that hold their own to the nth degree. “I’ve got bars like I’m convicted” – Kay…you’re just about the most kickass artist out there in the game today my friend – this whole record has been an extraordinary pleasure to listen to, and the lyrical genius on display simply cannot be denied, track for track m’lady. “Say My Name” is every bit as much entertaining as it is a safe prediction for the future to come – Kay L.A. is fully destined to become wildly successful in the music biz.
“Competition behind me” – she ain’t wrong! “I’m the type of chick that should be on your radio” – truth! Listen…the ONLY question that remains by the time you get to “Up” at the very end of Baltimore Moesha is that if Kay L.A. is already THIS amazing this early on in her career – how incredible is she gonna be as she surges into this next decade to follow? Rockin’ it solo for the finale of her debut album, Kay brings it home with style & finesse – she’s aware that she’s got next-level talent, and she’s clearly ready to make moves with it, you’ve heard’em all throughout this entire record. What she’s doin’ rollin’ sage into her blunts…I do not know…but other than that, I’m feelin’ what she’s layin’ down on “Up” and felt like it gave this record the solid finish it deserved. She’s sparklin’ and she’s shinin’ and she’s soundin’ locked right into the mood & the moment, and as she always does, Kay goes on to conquer this cut bar for bar, beat for beat. “Swear I’ve been the shit and I ain’t never need a stall” – genius. Pure genius. And yet, more truth! Kay’s on the way straight “Up” – and if every track on this record should have been all the confirmation you need to know she’ll reach number one with the talent she’s got. I’m not just impressed, I’m amazed, truly – Kay’s been great from the moment I first heard her, but listening to her consistency, the craft in her bars, her rhythm & flow, her lively personality and fire on the mic – everything stacks up to a serious win on Baltimore Moesha and a debut record that she can proudly stand behind – she’s exceeded every expectation anyone could have had going into this album, and she had already set the standards way “Up” high, you dig? Like I told ya from the get-go here – she was born to level-up, and there’s no denying that’s exactly what she’s done here with Baltimore Moesha.
Find out more about Kay L.A. from her official page at Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theyluvkay
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