Kiev – Infinite Positivity III – Album Review
Our history runs the course of over five years of listening to Kiev at this point…yet even getting a hello outta this man still seems to be next to impossible! It ain’t a requirement of course…it’s only what semi-separates me from feeling like a complete robot out here in the wilderness of the internet, but I’ll admit a simple greeting is not that likely to shake the intense grip that simulation theory has taken on me over these past several years either. So there’s that. Anyhow. I guess every article’s gotta start somewhere.
“You are not alone” as Kiev will tell ya at the very beginning of his new record as “Start Living” begins; I’ll have to take his word for it as I really don’t have any evidence or experience to suggest any otherwise. Flexing stylistically as Infinite Positivity III begins, sticking close to the theme of the title in perspective, even as Kiev digs into some of the hard aspects of life & loss that he’s experienced along the way. “Start Living” has an upfront sound & a low-key vibe to it…lots of room for the record to continue to grow and expand from here, which it will, but for the minute & twenty-four seconds we get with the man in this semi-intro style of a song, he makes a solid impression and makes it clear he’s puttin’ thought into his words. Not that we should expect anything less from Kiev – he’s proven himself plenty to my ears over the course of his career and I know the guy’s actually still got his best days up ahead of him – I’ve seen this movie before – sometimes life’s gotta knock you down & around a little so that you can truly rise up. Dig the piano…it’s a short cut but it all checks out on a technical & creative level…”Start Living” pulls you in close to listen, because Kiev always has something real to say and you can feel the weight in his music.
There it is though! That spark you wanna hear from the man on the mic. The faded haziness of “Start Living” dissipates & subsides, breaking way for “Know Better” to come out swinging BIG. For all of less than 2:30, there’s a whole metric ton of personality on the mic – “Know Better” is an exercise in solid verbal skills more-so than worrying about whether or not it’s a cut that’s gonna connect for any one specific flashy hook or anything like that. The hook IS the personality in a track like this, and that’s what’s real. Taking the bars for a real ride in collaboration – this record’s so new that I don’t even have the full list of credits & all, but credit where credit is due, everyone shows up BIG on “Know Better.” Consistent precision, swagger & style in-check…the rhymes keep comin’ atcha in a steady stream as the mic gets passed around…the main hook is as huge as the bass…there’s lots to dig on when it comes to the supreme dose of confidence and professionalism that’s riding along in tandem with their deviant & explicit bars. “Know Better” might very well shock your system with a few hot takes along the way, but make no mistake and don’t get it twisted, the talent on the mic is tangible in a way that we all can hear.
Listening to the man attack the bars on a cut like “Good For Me” is super satisfying. Kiev’s always put excellent music together and has been from the moment I started listening way back in 2017 – it’s rad to hear the guy conquering a track like this from start to finish without hesitation and spittin’ with genuine authority. “Can’t let a dollar determine my worth” is one of those lines that really hits ya with impact – I basically love every single thing I’m hearing in this track, 100% – and that is very much on account of Kiev raising up his energy and making us believe in every syllable we hear. Don’t get me wrong – I love the beat & music that comes along with it too…kind of like a low-key G-Funk-era vibe from the west side if you ask me, and I’m diggin’ it. That being said, it is absolutely the way Kiev crushes every bar with real purpose, intent, and perspective that makes this track one of the best you’ll find on Infinite Positivity III. It’s a performance he should be seriously proud of, and once you hear it for yourself you’ll know exactly why that is. Essentially, if he’d fallen flat on the mic here, it’d take all the meaning, message, and LIFE outta his words – and thankfully, he’s decided to go out and CRUSH BARS instead, bending this track to his will to make the most of this moment, which is precisely what his words needed to be as real as they are to us when we listen. Accessible too y’all…I’d be looking at “Good For Me” as a potential single for sure…he’s got hooks from the music to the microphone on display here that connect from every angle.
I still don’t know about production tags y’all…I’ll admit, that’s never gonna be my thing and I’ve never understood the point. I suppose there’s an element of cohesion having something like the intro tag appearing on every track is going to provide to a record…maybe? Other than that potential possibility, someone out there is gonna have to sit me down one day and explain to me how starting out each experience with the same line is helping push any album out there forward. Is this the moment where I realize I’m getting old? Y’all wish. I’ve been old longer than most of you have been alive. Anyhow. “The Shell” gives us more time with the main man on the mic on a cut that’s about twice the length of any other track so far, and it’s a perfect example of how Kiev can go mellow & low key in a way that has everyone paying attention. A lot of this song comes down to the vibe itself…you end up spending more time with the music on this cut, and it’ll play out like it’s got a part I/part II design as Kiev switches it up mid track to start blazing towards the finale of “The Shell.” All-in-all, from the theme to the execution to the sound itself, “The Shell” is one of the most complete tracks & ideas you might even have heard from Kiev to-date – I felt like he knocked this straight outta the park with a part-one that was already good, and then raising the stakes to greatness as he comes outta “The Shell” for the second part. Thematically & conceptually you can hear it’s entirely on-point…and while it might have a more chilled-out energy in its beginning, I still think the hooks are effective to the point where this would be another potential cut to have a hard look at as a single & gateway into the record for the people out there. “The Shell” speaks volumes on behalf of what Kiev can accomplish at his most focused & when he really puts himself into the music he’s making…it’s a deep cut on a personal level, but it’s one that proves how strong he can be any time he puts his mind to it & lets the passion of his craft take the wheel to steer his career forward.
“I Tried To Relax” is a perfect example of how little Kiev needs around him to really stand out. At the core of its DNA, there’s not a whole lot to the ingredients on “I Tried To Relax” – a couple synth notes, a bit of atmosphere, slight percussion…this is real minimalist stuff to the nth degree, but you can hear how Kiev smartly uses the extra space to his advantage. Make no mistake, this is pretty much where an emcee has every opportunity to make an impact – not everyone out there accomplishes that, but Kiev’s got no problem at all when it comes to rising to the challenge or the occasion when his number is called. All-in-all, it’s impressive that he’s pumpin’ out what’s essentially single-worthy sound here with so little in the mix, but that’s exactly what’s up & what you’ll hear on “I Tried To Relax.” Like any great cook knows, it’s often about the specific freshness in a few ingredients – and Chef BoyarKiev proves that to be true by the captivating & hypnotic performance he’s put into this track. It’s a cut that’s got one of those irresistible designs where the relationship between the music & vocals completely works on every level and seems to feed off of each other. This set-list moves quickly on Infinite Positivity III, but Kiev’s always got multiple stand-out reasons for you to listen, and “I Tried To Relax” certainly qualifies as one for sure.
With these tracks being as short as they are…my gut tells me that Kiev’s leaving a bit on the table still when it comes to making these cuts as memorable as perhaps they should be – you’ve gotta take at least a couple trips through the span of the record to accomplish that on account of everything being so quick & to the point. Kiev’s flyin’ into the studio, droppin’ hot bars in like two minutes flat, then jettin’ back out to do whatever it is that he’s doin’ – and I’m just saying like…you know…stick around for a while bro – this is what you do! Moments like “Breathe (Again)” might come & go as quickly for us on the listening end…and that’s something to potentially consider; it can be tough not to wonder what the man might do with more space and how much more memorable each cut could possibly be as a result. As long as people get a couple spins of the lineup in, it shouldn’t be all that much of a concern – but if it’s just a quick listen in passing, it’s incredibly rare for a really short cut to make a lasting impression. “Breathe (Again)” has got hooks, it’s got a solid idea to build around…but I felt like there probably could have been a bit more to explore here still before it all wrapped up. I’d imagine we’ll all feel one way or the other on all that. The man’s got skills; you’ll have to forgive me if I wanna spend more time with’em.
“Right Now” gives a bit of an explanation as to why some of this particular record might feel like it’s missing a little of the usual spark we hear from Kiev…he’s mired in the misery on this track. I’m not opposed to it – hell, a lot of making music is about venting and just trying to freakin’ survive as the creators that make it – but at the same time, it’s important to recognize that making a track like “Right Now,” or downtrodden tracks thematically, can almost be like stacking the odds against yourself even further sometimes. It can be extremely tough to get excited about a track that has its main character spinning his wheels…and for a record called Infinite Positivity III…Kiev…where’s that attitude all at bro? Reflecting on a past relationship and trying to figure out some kind of pathway forward – Kiev’s made the right call by using his music as a form of therapeutic release, even if it doesn’t come out as the most entertaining track on the album. I appreciate the introspection and the way that Kiev’s unafraid to dig deep into the personal, cuts like this & the next to follow are important to write if he’s gonna continue.
“Can’t Be Friends” examines the tough aftermath of trying to figure out where people fit into each other’s lives once the love’s stopped flowin’ like it used to. One of my favorite cuts on the record when it comes to the music…any time you see a track creep over three minutes, you can rest assured you’ll get to spend a bit more time with the beats Kiev’s rockin’ with. Lyrically, it’s equally sound – Kiev’s put a ton of thought into his words here, speakin’ straight from the heart, broken as it may be. “Can’t Be Friends” is one of those hard cuts that many people out there will be able to relate to; we’ve all experienced the hollow echo of our thoughts once a relationship is over, and keeping a friendship going afterwards is just about the most impossible thing for at least one half of the people involved to pull off. There’s always one side that’s bound to have stronger feelings and attachments than the other in that respect…”Can’t Be Friends” ends up being a realistic view on how hard it actually is to keep any kind of relationship going after the love is gone, and I’d imagine the vast majority of listeners out there will feel exactly where he’s coming from. Like I said, I’m older than dirt & I’ve been through much of this myself – at this point, I just try to remember the good times and keep that Infinite Positivity flowing. A ton of shit in life doesn’t work out, and ultimately it’s on all of us as individuals to find our way past whatever it is…eventually it just boils down to the fact that we really don’t choose to spend THAT much time with anyone on this planet while we’re here – so those that we have had the honor of knowing, are worth keeping close in the long run, no matter how difficult that may seem at first. Nothing needs to happen overnight…but eventually, I like to think situations like these circle back around to the fact that there was indeed at one point, a significant dose of real love involved…everything else will fade over time.
“Therapy” probably gives you the most insight into a lot of what this record is about, and what’s been up with Kiev over the course of these past several years as well – you get a ton of his raw, honest story here – and getting to know the motivations that drive the man on the mic goes a very long way here. He details the struggle he’s been locked in…the general confusion of how to go about sorting LIFE out, how to navigate everything we do towards success, and more specifically, Kiev in this particular instance. So many things get in the way of an artist’s lifestyle that it’d be impossible to include every one of’em here in this review, or even within a single song like “Therapy” – but it’s the right way to start tackling the mountain in front of ya. One step at a time, as they say – and in writing a track like “Therapy,” believe me when I tell ya, it creates the opportunity for Kiev to write MORE. More what? Anything at all y’all. If you DON’T get a track like this out of ya, feelings like Kiev will tell ya about could completely block the creative process forever if you’re not careful…so truly, it’s important to write songs like “Right Now,” “Can’t Be Friends,” and “Therapy” in order to be able to move forward. Kiev will tell ya about how he’s been chasing the dragon when it comes to life and trying to recapture his passion in a real honest way that people are guaranteed to appreciate, if not fully relate to it themselves. We all need “Therapy” of some kind – no joke, I’m being serious – doesn’t have to be the institutional kind, but we need some sort of creative outlet in order to express the things we have a much harder time saying out loud. Kiev gets as direct as he ever has in the details throughout “Therapy” and lays it all on the line, desperately trying to communicate his thoughts and get this stuff off his mind & chest so that he can finally move forward.
There’s a bit of that Infinite Positivity we’ve been lookin’ for coming back at the very end – “Stop Dying” brings a more uplifting theme into the mix to finish off the record. It ain’t ALL sunshine & roses of course – it’s Kiev – there’s always a ton on this dude’s mind that’ll take him (and us) from one side of his emotions and thoughts straight on through to the other. Dude puts in a whole bunch of fantastic bars into this cut…and stylistically, he’s making moves that stand out in his verse along the way. I am…trying my best here to decide whether or not he’s pushed it too far with the hooks on this track though…and my gut tells me that he probably has…if I’m being truthful, the singing might be a bit more on the grating side of sound than intended this time around. I like the idea, but I’m not 100% sold on how the melody came out and whether or not it’s gonna connect & pull people in, or whether it clashes so much to the point where it could push people away…it’s a very tough call and riding right on the edge of acceptance. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some stellar moments in the hooks to be found as well…just a bit uneven in the overall results – I dig the idea, and think this cut has more potential in it than we’re probably experiencing as it is now. I absolutely love the spoken-word sample…everything about it, 100%. From the texture of the sound in the recording, to the words themselves, it’s by far & away my favorite part of this final track, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that it’s one of the most profound moments on the album altogether, where much of the intentions of Kiev in recording this album get laid out plain as day.
Listen to more music by Kiev at Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3gY4AXKmt61qPI1WwjonZn
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