Kambino is back with Independence, and he pulls no punches at all. The Explicit Content sticker on the cover could cause means of concern when marketing in the Christian music circle. So why the sticker? Kambino uses the "N word" a few times, and he is also very candid when speaking of past mindsets.
Before you turn a deaf ear to Kambino, know that he is a clever wordsmith with a gritty delivery. He speaks of being an independent artist, free from the opinion of man and living "in dependence on God." Peep the title track for that latter reference.
"Awkward Silence (Warning Shots)" is a nice way to start an album off as Kambino speaks of pleasing God no matter the opposition. Flawless Tracks provides a simple slow banger with a few rhodes and keyboard; just enough for Kam to bring the heat. Many people were wondering what was going on with Kambino and what was taking him so long to release another full-length album. Enter "Eternal (Whole Time)," where he explains that he had to deal with some toxic thinking while confidently adding that his flow is still intact. He plans to raise the standard in hip-hop.
"Chuckin" grabbed me from the very beginning of the song. It began with the hook (chanted by Fly Boy) which says, "Straight go ahead and love it / Yeah I'm screaming 'Yolo' ballin' on a budget / Up and down the yoyo / I want no part of it / With two fingers in the dueces I be chunkin' / Deuces I be chunckin' I'm gone / In a fresh pair of Taylors my shoe game even display what I'm on."
Kam kills his verses speaking of how he is saying goodbye to his old way of living, as well as his old record label (There is still love there). Props again to Flawless Tracks because the beat has a crazy infectious feel that will boom even in factory speakers. Christon Gray, who happens to be Kam's cousin, comes hard on "Winter Flow." Could they do a collaboration album one day? That would be cool, but of course they should not do it just because it would be a cool concept. It really would be dope! Flawless Tracks goes at it again on the beat!
I was very disappointed in the song "Make Believe," because it is very same track that was used on Sean Johnson's "Dear Self," which was released in 2012. Kambino should have done his homework and left that one out. No matter, things get back on track with summer jam, "All My Friends."
This is change of pace because it is dedicated to those friends who died and those who Kam co-labors in ministry with including his ex-Slingshot labelmate, Yaves. Kam's maturity shines on "Beautiful Rain" elucidating the fact that rough times can bring growth and beauty. Lauren Monique so effortless lets her voice flow throughout the song without "doing the most" which is a sign of a good singer.
Kambino is not holding back as he is really trying to bring issues that seem "taboo" in the church to the music market. "Cheers" is a song that raw and uncut. It's an ode to Kam's wife and he really expresses his desire to be intimate with his wife. He went there and he may cause several people to be uncomfortable. Yes, he went there!
This is an album that deserves a good listen! Yes there are the misses of using the same track and the occasional use of the "N word." It is still a banger and Kambino is still one of my favorite rappers. I actually find this album refreshing and I applaud his honest approach. Christian rap should not be so cookie cutter where it's content is only for those who are basically shielded from the rest of the world.
It is important that you listen to his interludes to really hear more of his heart. Although this statement is used too flippantly, I would definitely put him up there with some of the best rappers in hip-hop, period. With 18 tracks and two edited versions of "Chuckin" and "Crabs", there is enough to chew on.