New (to Me) Artist Spotlight: Kawzee
The internet never ceases to impress upon me the fact that true talent often goes unnoticed. While online, I recently discovered a hip-hop artist who gained my attention through a website I occasionally visit for updates on the global music scene. The artist’s stage name is Kawzee (based on Kamikaze), and although he is not new at making music, he only just last year (2010) released his LP called Finally – an album 8 years in the making. After listening to the album, I must say that I consider myself fortunate to have come across an artist with a sound of such high caliber.
This is my attempt to put together as much information as I could about Kawzee from what was available online and also from his album. As much as I tried, I could not find much detailed biographical information about him (yet another artist without a Wikipedia page). Even his website and social networking profiles were lacking in detail by way of a decent overview of his background. Here’s what I was able to get.
Kawzee is a hip-hop artist out of Toronto, Canada, and from what I was able to gather from his lyrics, he is now in his 30s. With an album spanning over 8 years, whether that’s his early, middle, or late 30s is anyone’s guess. In addition to also being a husband and a father, he works as a full-time IT Consultant. With such a full life, it’s no wonder that it took him so long to come out with his aptly titled album, Finally. Most people probably would have abandoned the project. His persistence definitely shows a profound love for music that you can sense in every track.
Unlike a great deal of artists who claim to have been inspired by hip-hop figures such as the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, and Jay-Z, Kawzee actually displays the marks of someone who appreciates and has studied those who have come before him. His style is not an imitation of anyone in particular, however. Kawzee has managed to put together a finely crafted approach to making music which assures any listener that he has a great deal of respect for hip-hop as an art form.
Firm yet inviting, Kawzee’s voice draws you in immediately. His lyrical ability is precise, versatile, and well executed. He is not afraid to try different types of production, but seems to prefer arrangements which incorporate an old school hip-hop flavor. Contrary to most rappers, he is also more than willing to give listeners full tracks with rhymes uninterrupted by a hook. It is extremely rare to find an artist bold enough to do this even once on a single album, but Kawzee manages a couple of tracks like this on Finally. This is his album, and he gives you more solo time than one has come to expect.
Kawzee has a very mature sound which acknowledges the lures of excess without celebrating them. He is different from most in the sense that he has found a way to make an intimate commentary on social complexities while avoiding the stigma which somehow accompanies those artists who are labeled “socially conscious.” His lyrics are not as much about social consciousness as they are about “life awareness.”
Kawzee’s LP, Finally, is a well-constructed album and serves in many ways as Kawzee’s autobiography. Using the first track as an overview of where the artist has been and where he plans to take the listener, Finally tells the story of a man who temporarily deviates from his passion for music and then, against the toils of living, struggles to find his way back to a culture which has begun to stray from the ideas which had such a powerful impact on his life. He has stories that I feel most people can appreciate and enjoy listening to. The production, though engaging on its own terms, does not overpower the lyrical content. Though at times complex and technical in his lyrical ability, Kawzee never loses his audience through excessive bravado.
Although I noted many positive comments upon the initial release of Finally, I have not heard much else from Kawzee and don’t know of his plans to release new material in the near future. Regardless, I appreciate the work that he has produced with his album. It is reassuring to know that one can unexpectedly find good music despite overwhelmingly negative, generalized sentiments. I will keep an ear open for him in the future and will continue to hold him in the highest regard as a voice worthy of recognition.
- KAWZEE - FINALLY
Check out Kawzee's website and download "Finally" for free. Note: Track #7, "Get Mine," is available in full to listen to on the website but does not appear on the album.