Kiev – Swish – Album Review
Bro…way to take it to the next level homie!
It’s not like I wasn’t impressed the last time I had the opportunity to check out Kiev’s music on his Infinite Positivity EP…but for real – this album is like…way better isn’t it? Is it just me? I remember thinking great things about his rhymes last time around; this time it sounds like Kiev has taken that step further in his writing & style to deliver high-energy entertainment in the music & non-stop lyrical-flows at every possible turn. The man is focused, hungry and intensely skilled verbally, no doubt about it – and he’s definitely putting out the best music of his career right in the here & now on Swish.
Welcoming us in to another service from pastor Kiev – the man jumps up on the hip-hop pulpit instantly preaching rhymes with confidence, precision and a tremendously smooth flow on Swish’s “Intro.” Bringing us back into his world with a bold reminder of the jazzy-style, rhythm & capabilities that we heard from us on the last time around – “Intro” is a perfect start to the record; gives the fans of Kiev something inviting and familiar that instantly makes you stoked to have him back before he launches into new evolutions of his sound & style throughout the record.
Right from the drop, Swish is front-loaded with a ton of entertainment and awesomeness. Both “City Music” and “All My Friends” have massively captivating performances from Kiev on the mic and entirely innovative beats that really work insanely well with his flow. You can hear the assistance of the next generation of emcees lend a hand on both tracks…the new youths of tomorrow provide a solid verse to end “City Music” and the main hook that drives “All My Friends” in the chorus. Most of the time…I’m usually inclined to keep the age-groups close in range on a record, if only to preserve that cohesive sound in a set of songs more than anything else…but I gotta admit, I like what I’m hearing here. It’s damn near impossible to compete with Kiev in the thick of the flow…he still remains the star of both these two tracks starting out Swish but these collaborations are definitely working out in his favor. Love the way the harmonies come out on “All My Friends” – I like both these opening cuts a lot really; suppose I’d probably hand it to “All My Friends” by a slight-edge if I had to choose between them…thankfully I don’t & you don’t either – turn these up!
Wait a minute…did he just say ‘I pray the lord my watch ain’t fake?’ – that’s a purely genius line when detailing the passion of the grind like Kiev does on “Before.” Clearly the man is hungrier than ever…I felt like that impression came roaring through the speakers all throughout the first three tracks already, but “Before” makes his every intention completely known and entirely direct. The surrounding elements in the atmosphere & samples he’s using to thread this mixtape together are seriously rad choices; Kiev has put the work in to find what works in the dynamics of his style & music and also what works best to surround the songs & keep this record flowing in all the right directions. “Before” comes out powerfully – Kiev sounds big & bold and in no mood to compromise the pursuit of his goals & dreams. Based on the added intensity & aggression you can hear in his delivery on “Before” – well…I’d recommend it probably best to get out the man’s way lest things start to get real loud up on ya. He makes his presence known and his intentions clear on “Before” – a highlight of insight into the mind of Kiev.
Riding in a E-class Mercedes is a joy that only some people I know personally have had the luxury of experiencing in life. Believe it or not – my original co-partner, Rob @ SBS, used to roll around in an AMG E-class. Also believe it or not, one of the two of us at the very least is still likely wanted in the state of Oregon for an unpaid speeding ticket of over $1400 US (yep, you read that correctly) after a high-speed chase down their highway at two or three o’clock in the morning that ended with us rolling up slowly to a barricade set up in the middle of the road to make sure we didn’t pass. For what it’s worth – neither of us knew we were being chased to begin with – that’s how hard an E-class can ride a cop into the dust behind you for the record…also for the record, only one of us had our name at the top of that ticket…considering by the time we rolled up to the roadblock the cops were already guns-drawn expecting something far, far worse than two stupid man-children with the music up, I figure getting out of that situation at all and being able to continue to drive on was a sign that we actually got pretty damn lucky. Anyhow – there’s a point to this story…maybe you gotta know E-class life before you would get it, I’m not entirely sure – but the smooth flow of “Star” is what it’s like to roll in that style of car in audio-form. For real! Even at the highest speeds, it feels as smooth and precise as what Kiev’s got going on with “Star” – it’s not ALL about his ride…most of the track isn’t really…but it sure starts the adventure out in that mindset whereby keeping the ride gliding along sounds like the first priority here. Really dig the way the music works and the tone he’s chosen to deliver on this one – Chef Boyar Kiev cooks up something special and ultra-slick for you with “Star.”
“Logo” is one of the most lyrically-insightful tracks that you’ll find on this entire album. And man…let me tell ya…as a kid that ended up with a knock-off brand of everything that was truly popular…believe me when I say a lot of what he’s got to say about the “Logo” in general is 100% on-point. Waxing poetically on the power of the “Logo” and the effect that can have on us as people – I think he’s done an extraordinary job of taking an experience we can all relate to and found a way to really communicate the importance and weight on it all. Because a “Logo” can be a design, or it can rule your mind…I think Kiev does as incredible job of explaining this through brilliantly insightful lyricism and personal experience combined. With a beat produced by P.Soul and the perfect sample to end this cut…”Logo” is about as focused as focused gets when it comes to ideas and execution & the beat/sample combo is sheer brilliance – absolutely one of my favorite cuts on the record. And don’t get me wrong…Swish will go on to reveal itself to be 100% tight at every corner…yet somehow, “Logo” still manages to really stand out like a gemstone in a sea of diamonds.
Alright…wait a minute here…is Kiev writing fictionally, nostalgically or truthfully on “Grown Ass Man?” Specifically…where he mentions being only eighteen…this is in the past right? If it’s not, I might just up and retire…Kiev would have already clearly amassed more talent before the age of twenty than I will have by the time I reach triple-digits! I honestly don’t know his full history…but if the words of “Grown Ass Man” are true…he’s definitely still got a long & bright future ahead of him. I dig this kind of personal reflection and observation in music – and I think that there’s a ton of the REAL Kiev in this cut…whether that has anything to do with his age or not, I don’t know – but the rest of the track is insightfully laced with brilliant descriptions and imagery that make it all so clear it’s like you’re on the couch in his living-room getting to know the guy on a chilled-out weekend over beats & beers hearing his stories direct. There’s a real comfort to the sound of “Grown Ass Man” – inviting and entirely accessible to the ears – I think he’s got a cut that really has appeal here for its sound & story that the people will respond to.
For my own personal taste however…I think “Next Level” truly IS. What’s NOT genius about this track? Kiev has played this one in every right way possible…I’m not entirely sure what he’s responsible for here, I’m guessing the music as it sounds like he’s handed-off the mic again to a homie for the assist. “Next Level” moves enticingly sleekly & slowly…and while it might rely somewhat on a repetitive style/structure to the hooks & sounds we hear – the performance on the microphone makes each line come through with a surprising amount of authenticity in their offbeat approach. The result is a song that absolutely sounds like it’s just as honest as it is entertaining…and even though with a deep examination and listen to “Next Level” you can certainly hear how much work has been put into its performance, production and overall execution – this track still ends up sounding truly natural. One of the most different in the movement & mix of moods on Swish – I felt like Kiev hit the mark solidly here producing a cut with something seriously different to offer on his album that’s wildly defined with its low-end rhythm & pulse meeting the jazzy-flow and earnest approach from the emcee on the m-i-c.
“Let Me In” – or as you may have come to know it by its assumed nickname, aka “How Kiev shows you to make the most of three minutes without worrying about that air/oxygen stuff so much.” Man! Once this guy gets his flow rolling in this cut, he never lets his foot off the gas and keeps this cut moving at full speed while still retaining a fairly chilled-sound to the entire track. Insightful amount of control on this cut…great lines and an absolutely jaw-dropping continuous flow that hits every point of the metering right on-point…Kiev’s made a ton of right decisions, twists & turns on “Let Me In.” The beat & the music of this cut is straight-up wild and highly unique…he’s also switched up the sound of his own voice on the mic by cleverly adding a bit of slight distortion into the sound of the main hook of the chorus – another absolutely brilliant, subtle move that ends up making all the difference in the world when listening to a record like this for its smart shifting & versatile movements throughout its length. Every time “Let Me In” came around on the playlist here, I liked it more and more…just different enough once again to still fit right onto this album but never snap you out of Kiev’s world – you stay right with him willingly here.
Quite admirably, Kiev has definitely put a lot of time into finding some future stars and perfect assistance for the bars throughout this album. I appreciate that about this guy…because there have been numerous feature spots, but also highly suitable & skilled choices being made in terms of who comes in where and what kind of sound they contribute to the cut overall. Something like “Float” really nails that collaborative spirit in Kiev’s music…like everyone he works with understands the goal always remains the full-track itself, not anyone’s individual performance. As a result, no worries at all are required – everyone WANTS to bring their best to these tracks, and they have been. “Float” is certainly no exception…and once again I found myself completely impressed with the music that Kiev selects to work with. For the record, I have been throughout the entire album & the last EP too – he’s not only got an extraordinary & superhuman grip on the mic & his own style – he really understands what & who to work with better than most emcees ever will. He ain’t afraid to hand off the mic, he ain’t afraid to let the music have its moment…when Kiev’s called upon and it’s his time, he’ll slay bars every time.
‘Gettin’ love like he’s Raymond’ on “The Words” – you’ll find Kiev a bit more in this track personally than on others. I feel like I know the sample he’s used here with the jazzy piano, bass & beat combo…but even with that added familiarity, Kiev finds ways to make anything old sound new again. Lyrically, he’s killin’ it once again, lacing pop-culture references inside of personal insights and observations on life along the way – but more than anything else, it’s the tone & expression he uses when rhyming this one out…”The Words” glides along on a cushion of air like a ’64 rolling down the sunset strip at sunrise. Shouting out his mom and paying respect to those that helped him out along the way – every investment made into this emcee is bound to be one that pays off either instantly or in the long run. Kiev will go the distance with this music thang – you can hear the heart, passion, determination and impressive focus at every moment throughout Swish.
Between the ending of “The Words” and the ending of the following track “Another Nigga,” I figure conservative estimates would show that Kiev at the very least, owes me a new computer. I was already laughing by the sample he used at the end of “The Words” – but straight-up, the one he uses at the end of “Another Nigga” came SO FAR out of left-field that no lie, I actually spit my coffee all over my keyboard and monitor laughing so hard. I’ll send him the bill. In the meantime, I’ve cleaned everything off and managed to not electrocute myself in the process. What a freakin’ WORDSMITH though! Listen to the incredible flow he rocks lyrically on “Another Nigga” – this all goes so far beyond the rhymes storefront and right back into the real inventory he’s carrying. The words never quit coming at you – the atmosphere in the music & mix is quite minimal – yet Kiev keeps this whole track moving at high-speed lyrically while the beat keeps the vibe super-smooth. A contrast in elements that really works well in his music and certainly on “Another Nigga” – he’s really been smart about when to make switches to the tone or effects we hear on the vocals and given us every reason to keep listening throughout this entire album. From the amazing sample-selections that tie this mixtape together to the all-out perfection he’s put into his performances – I swear, Kiev has moved the needle so far forward in his direction, he’s bound to leave half the emcees in the game behind altogether after dropping this record.
Myron drops in to puff-puff-pass the mic with Kiev, trading verses throughout “Rolex.” Solid verses from both emcees involved – no issues ever on the mic anywhere on this album – but once again, notice the depth of the music and the respect that Kiev shows for it throughout this entire record. On “Rolex” he’s using what I think is essentially, the roots of a classical compostion…and he’s once again somehow made this work in the modern day. He’s used ‘nigga’ plenty on this album…so I don’t mind saying at all that the music he’s got laced into the sample is more or less what ‘whiteys’ everywhere used to ‘dance’ to, back when like, ruffles on shirts were still a thing. Even when you launch a full-on burp into the middle of the mix like Kiev has on “Rolex” – still can’t deny he’s got massive respect for all kinds of music out there. Dropping knowledge bombs, direct threats and menacing tones – these two emcees ride to victory on “Rolex” with giant low-end sounds meeting classical piano-notes in a stunning combo and highlight in the late stages of Swish.
Bringing back the vibe for “The Night Show” featuring Joel Holmes and produced by Svmson – Kiev takes one last twist in the direction of sound on Swish to end this highly impressive album memorably. Joel takes the hook for a smooth ride while Kiev takes the verses for a victory lap on the last track of the record. At every moment, he’s put lyricism and precision on display throughout Swish and “The Night Show” is no exception. Adding a bit of R&B into the sound, “The Night Show” uses layers between the background & main vocals extremely well…whether its harmonizing or adding in some punch & emphasis on certain words as they fly by – these two sound great together and they do the ending of this record real justice with an inspired final cut.
Consider yourself short-listed Kiev! I’m so massively impressed with the rhythm, rhymes, writing & flow of Swish that I’ve immediately put this on my list of what to remember when it comes time to make that final top-ten list of 2017 on our yearly quest for best new sound. Kiev’s absolutely put in the work here – pure entertainment drips from every bit of the wax on this record…I doubt that I’ll need to make any effort to remember Swish – I plan on having these tracks live at the top of my playlist for a long, long time to come. 100% solid as solid gets.
Find more music from Kiev at his official Soundcloud page: https://soundcloud.com/chefboyarkiev
Join the thousands of bands & artists reviewed at sleepingbagstudios by clicking here!