Kiev – Ambrosia – Album Review
The chef is back in the kitchen y’all.
I’ve been seeing a lot of hype for this new record by Kiev online. On sight alone, even without hearing the album, it’s safe to assume the buzz is real; we’ve been listening to this artist since early 2017 and know that every step the man has made along the way has been a strong strut forward in the evolution of his craft. I know the people out there get it…the support Kiev growing for his music is real, well-earned, and fully deserved – tons of people out there have been waiting for his next record to drop, we’re just one of a million in line here at SBS.
That being said, the time has finally come – Ambrosia is here and the hype is well justified. Chef Boy-R-Kiev has cooked you up something real special, you best believe it. I’m sure you do – Kiev’s proven himself time & again with the moves he’s made on the mic and with his music-career so far, consistently raising the stakes with his material with each record he puts out. As if the man feels no pressure at all to do it again & again, Ambrosia has Kiev sounding like an artist right in their prime – he’s crushin’ it here.
Though…I know better than to be fooled at this point, having listened to so much of Kiev’s music over the years. The “Intro” to Ambrosia might start on the most delicate tip with its gentle piano tones ringing out into the atmosphere as the track begins – but I can SEE with my eyes, that every single one of these tracks comes with an ‘explicit’ tag – I know it’s only a matter of time before the switch comes in and this emcee’s gonna detonate. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ – it’s a matter of ‘when.’ LISTEN to the way that “Intro” builds…you can physically feel the specialness of this moment as the song plays on…the haunting guitar and the powerful emotion they send searing through the atmosphere is a perfect complement to the piano & subtle beat along with it. Right around when you think you’re about to settle in – BOOM – just like I told ya folks, Kiev switches it up dramatically and puts a whole different set of skills to work around the 2:30 mark. Consider yourselves warned first-time listeners, it comes right out of left field, but you’ll hear from the performance on this one track alone that Kiev’s got plenty to offer and several gears to reveal. The music is captivating, the flow is as well, the entire structure of “Intro” capitalizes on every second of its potential. Just as you’re about to throw your lighters-up in the air, Kiev brings in the dose of explicitness in the switch at the end, speaking & spittin’ the truth at his stylistic best – the bars at the end of “Intro” are freakin’ award worthy yo! And you gotta admit – for what you typically associate an “Intro” experience being like, this is so far removed from – it might be the beginning of the record and start of the story, but make no mistake, this is a full-on song that deserves a real listen and salute of respect…killer beginning, incredible switch – check. Is this “Intro” going to grab the people’s attention? You kidding me homies? You bet your ass it will. Shout out to Rich YR who’s featured on this opener as well, he’s a major factor in the awesomeness you’ll hear on this first track.
I’ve always maintained that the most successful songs that really connect echo the sentiment of the song through the music and vocals…or at the very least, one or the other, you get the idea. Case in-point – “Passion” – is what the second song claims to have, and that’s exactly what Kiev gives ya. This is an emcee delivering precisely what he promised ya, with “Passion” radiating from his energy on the mic and the gritty tone in the attitude of his voice. Sometimes that added spark from an artist comes from really knowing you’re onto something hot, and bringing that extra gear to the song when it’s time to record as a result – and I’d imagine there’s a bit of that at work here; I think Kiev’s gotta be just as aware as we are as listeners that he’s got a seriously single-worthy cut with “Passion.” The dude has got so much personality on the mic it’s crazy – and again, on a song called “Passion,” that’s where it’s so important to bring the A-game and fulfill the promise the title implies…and where Kiev’s excelling. Dude’s punishing the bars of “Passion” – and listen to how much time the guy gives himself to put the right spin on his words with the right energy, attitude, inflection, all-that…he’s surging with confidence on this cut and giving your ears wildly strong hooks through strings of endless words on massive verses and hooks that flex finesse and skill at all times. Someone get the man some air will ya? He even pokes fun at the main hook of this cut at the end of “Passion” – this is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations of music…you can’t toss a hook like you’ll find in this song, but you can admit it’s got a fun vibe brings a grin to your mug as Kiev rolls through the stretch of lyrics that create the lines. You can practically hear the smile on his face in recording much of this one, even at its most intense; and who could blame him? Like I always say – you know when you’re gettin’ it right as artists – and when you really find that sweet-spot, you end up with results as strong as this, with bulletproof hooks & bars.
Adding a new dimension to the album and another degree of versatility, Kiev gets his Trap on for most of “Keep It On Me” and finds solid ground in another part of Rap’s sub-genres. He didn’t need to prove anything to me or anyone else I’d imagine…”Keep It On Me” might not be his typical style, but the switch is strong & proves he can fully hold his own when it comes to makin’ Trap that makes an impact. I mean…I’m gonna be real with the man and say I’m probably more of a fan of the opening two tracks, but that’s strictly because they’re more suited to my own personal taste; I wouldn’t take any points away for the quality he brings to “Keep It On Me” or say anything less than he finds success with his trappin.’ Ultimately, there’s still a ton to keep you entertained no matter what style of Rap & its sub-genres you dig most – listen to the killer atmosphere and beat that come along with this cut – or what about the straight yellin’ we take around the 2:45 mark – that’s as in-your-face as it gets and it sounds completely HUGE. Facts are facts yo – “Keep It On Me” is a seriously slick track that fully warrants your attention just as much as the rest; it might be the most divergent of the set in its style, but it still shows the mastery of the mic that comes with Kiev’s music & proves he can make it work in any environment.
“Ptsd” has one of my favorite performances from Kiev, damn near bar none…he crushes this track so damn hard that, were it not for the fact that there’s so many quality cuts on this record, this would probably take the top prize as my favorite track personally. The chorus hook he’s latched onto probably IS the strongest one on the record – even if you might not think so on that first spin, I guarantee the uniqueness you’ll find, the level of execution, and the cleverness you’ll find in the way those bars work will stick the melody in your head for weeks after a couple of tours through Ambrosia. To me, this is one of those true unsung heroes of a record…will everyone hear this one and be as impressed as I am? I sure as hell hope so! But in truth, I’m not sure…at least not at first…there’s a complexity that exists in “Ptsd” and a heaviness to this vibe that hangs like a huge cloud over its eerie mood – and maybe that’s accessible at first, maybe it’s not – what I’m tellin’ ya, is one day soon enough, if you’re a fan of this record you’ll come to the conclusion that this is easily one of the album’s strongest songs overall. It’s like he’s letting the thoughts in his dome spill straight out unfiltered into the mic on “Ptsd” and the entire performance Kiev puts in will give ya the chills, partly because of the theme, partly because the skills, ideas, and execution have been incredible to this point already, and this song reaches new heights. To me personally, there’s almost no contest…I think these hooks are mesmerizing and as all-out captivating as it gets…this probably IS my favorite track when push comes to shove…”Ptsd” has such a bold mix of intensity and isolation…it’s a powerful track to experience and highly thought-provoking.
Adding a lil’ extra swagger to his flow and creating one for the ladies on “Faith,” Kiev gets deep into the romantic end of the pool for this track at the center of the lineup on Ambrosia. This is a solid example of how you bring the old-school vibes into the modern day in a relevant way – so much of “Faith” sounds timelessly classic, and it keeps that perfect balance of sweetness & beat-ness right on-point the entire distance through. This is straight Hip-Hop in the way that never gets old – the kind of song you can put on and raise the joy-factor at the party immediately; the solid groove in the music never quits and gives Kiev every opportunity to put the bounce into his words to match the intense melody of the music. In a way…as in like, the complete opposite direction in sound, “Faith” is as about as divergent from the overall sound of Ambrosia as “Keep It On Me” was – this tune is just hella bright & flashy instead of the Trap style from beforehand, but both equally different sounds from the rest of the set in their own way. With its big synth low-end grooves and sweet singing in the backing vocals from Kobe and Serenity, “Faith” comes out with a pretty charming sound, and Kiev brings the themes into love in the relationship realm as he professes his feelings throughout this cut from Ambrosia. I’m probably a bit more partial to the moodier vibes of the surrounding tracks like “Ptsd” and “Misty” personally, but I have no doubt that “Faith” could quite easily be a favorite for others – there’s a vibrant & smooth energy on this cut that’s easy to dig on.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve loved what I’ve heard from Kiev on this record so far, but the first thought I had in my head when “Misty” came on was about just how much the hype surrounding this album is so completely justified – Kiev takes you for a deep trip into his personal thoughts and broken emotions. It’s rare that I read too much about a record before it comes out in an effort to stay objective, but like I’ve been tellin’ ya, I’ve been seeing rumblings of Ambrosia coming out and could sense the enthusiasm – and what’s even rarer, is reading such positivity & having it live up to expectations like this album does. All that being said, every time “Misty” started in the lineup of the record’s songs, after the fade-out of “Faith,” the burst of the sample to start “Misty” up damn near made me brick my shorts a couple times. Maybe it’s loud in the mix…maybe I’ve just got the volume up right where it should be when playing Ambrosia…maybe I shouldn’t be complaining when the overall results of “Misty” are so damn good. A love letter to a love lost/lessons learned, Kiev gets deep into it all here and lays out the situation in a very truthful and objective way…there’s an honesty in the way he expresses his thoughts that is bound to connect with the people out there listening and the songs in this whole set on Ambrosia sound like he’s broken down the walls required to get himself into the music he makes for real. Being this involved is what connects an artist to their audience and vice-versa…Kiev should be proud of what he’s achieved on this album. All that being said, if he had asked me prior to recording this song if using “The Way We Were” as a sample to drive the atmosphere and melody was a good idea, I would have said hellllllllllllllll no loud enough for him to hear me wherever he is without a phone. What’s unbelievable is how well it works and the resulting awesomeness you’ll find on “Misty” – I’m completely shocked at how much I loved this tune. “Misty” fully reveals the maturity in the man behind the microphone…not only is Kiev letting a lot of thoughts and feelings out into the world on this song, but he’s taking full responsibility for his role in the situation he’s in…it’s as much of an apology as it is a tribute – “Misty” is a freakin’ beautiful song. Hella heartbreaking at times, but a quality tune and experience that makes you smile.
How real is “Fly” y’all? This entire song is the truth. Not only does it work with an extraordinary vocal hook from singer Kobe surrounding the bars, but you’ll find seriously insightful knowledge bombs get dropped all throughout this cut. Kiev will take you right to the moment and mindset he had before and after he decided to get to the mic and make his music – he’ll get political, personal, and bring up a lot of social issues as well, right up to the brilliant way the gunshot comes in past the three-minute mark, which sends the sound of the music into a muted-dub treatment and sliding the scales to give it a jazzy instrumental groove that’s almost like the antithesis of the spirited demeanor of the music beforehand. Like with that single shot, everything that Kiev was rappin’ about just seconds before, all the hopes, all the dreams, all the passion, all the truth he was spittin,’ just gets wiped-out in a single moment, warping the reality of life afterwards, represented through the wavy tempo and tailspin groove that “Fly” ends up in. I’m not gonna lie…sometimes I sit here and wonder if I’m really hearing what I’m hearing…and then I usually write it down anyway; I can’t say for 100% certainty that all these theories I’m typing out are correct…but I think what he created came across super clear here…I think I might be right about this one. Bottom line is, we’re talking about an extremely well-thought out track that makes you genuinely think…or at the very least it made me think. Kiev packs a lot into “Fly” and makes the whole experience of listening to it a smooth roll with precision flow that keeps you hanging on every word. A couple of the tracks on Ambrosia have really impressively unique vocal hooks beyond normal standards – “Fly” is certainly one of’em…unique in that true sense of the word where you hear the combination between the lead & backing layers and know you’ve never heard something you can think of as similar. “Fly” is an outright ambitious track, and absolutely outstanding from the complexity in the vocals, to the way a song like “Fly” makes you go down the rabbit hole to consider what it is the artist behind the design is trying to say…I dig tracks that make you think while they make you move – ain’t no doubt that this song aims to do both, and succeeds.
“10 PM In Athens” will serve you up one of Kiev’s most stylistically slick flows on this record, the man is verbal precision in action as he articulates what makes him the person he is today. You can hear the gratitude and appreciation he has for the gifts he’s got in quite a few corners of this record in the words Kiev’s written – and I dig that it always feels genuine & sincere. You know the Rap game is more than just a hobby to Kiev – this is everything he’s always wanted to do, and you can hear that he never takes the opportunity to do what he loves for granted. As a result, he’s hittin’ bars with precision as he “turns his dreams into reality” – it’s always awesome to hear the man as focused as you’ll find him on “10 PM In Athens,” and you can hear from the content in his lyrics, and the way he’s spittin’ these rhymes, that what Kiev’s rappin’ about is important to him. It makes all the difference to us as listeners – when you’re this invested into every line, you bring the audience along with ya…Kiev’s got that locked down. He illustrates his history, experiences, and truth in words flawlessly throughout the tales and narrative on “10 PM In Athens,” once again taking what’s essentially a slow jam in the sample of the music and giving a performance that lights-up the energy overall through the charisma he brings to the mic. He don’t quit neither – you’ll hear the beat fade-out long before Kiev surrenders the microphone at the end of “10 PM In Athens,” and I mean…if you got something to say like this emcee does, nothing gets in your way right? So what if the music’s on lunch-break – rhymes need to be spit & Kiev’s here to spit’em!
There is true genius in the finale to Ambrosia with the last track “What You Do It For” – the title implies exactly what this inspiring track delivers. With a recorded conversation over a gentle beat, this last song nearly sounds like an afterthought…or an epilogue…or like someone left the mics on in the studio and this magical moment just happened to be caught one night…however it came to be, you can definitively label this as a sincerely beautiful cut. What’s surprising…truly…is just how incredible this track is, without the main star of the show even making an appearance beyond a quick laugh in the mix at one point – for the vast majority, Kiev’s sitting back and listening to this just like we are – and rightly so; you’ll find more relevant knowledge in this one track than you’ll find in ten years of schoolin’! Especially if you’re an artist in the grind, if you’re questioning what success is really all about, if you need a reminder about what’s required to ‘go hard’ and what that means – it doesn’t get much better than the outstanding way that “What You Did It For” puts all that together & more for ya. I could honestly listen to this lady read the phonebook and never get bored – she’s got such LIFE in her voice, that it makes all the inspiring things she has to say to Kiev fully believable…and the experiences she shares, real. In fact, it wasn’t until she cracks a joke and Kiev laughs out loud that I even realized it was an active phone call – I thought this might have been like, an answering machine message and we were all sitting and listening to these words of truth spellbound and completely still. The commentary that runs through this final track with the soft music in the background is beyond insightful…the thoughts on success, how we view it, how we define it…how important it is to enjoy life and what it means to really do something we love. Much like the “Intro” to start the record was a complete song in its own respect, so too is “What You Do It For” – don’t mistake a phone call overtop of some music as any kind of throwaway idea – this is ART. Kiev’s outdone himself with this new record – that’s been clear from moment one when Ambrosia began – and by the end of “What You Do For It,” after everything we’ve experienced along the way – this album is a complete confirmation of how ready he is for that next level. Slam dunk set of songs as far as my ears are concerned…everything from the various styles of sound, the quality beats, and the lyrical authenticity that Kiev brings to his material stands out for all the right reasons on Ambrosia.
Find Ambrosia and more music by Kiev at Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3gY4AXKmt61qPI1WwjonZn
Join the thousands of bands & artists reviewed at sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!