KA A Martyr's Reward
Ka's A Martyrs Reward is a masterpiece. At first listen I thought of was Killah Priest’s tracks like Heavy Mental. Where everything is incredibly cerebral and the sonics are weaved together while picture painting with words take center stage as the mostly less drum heavy songs. The delivery is effortless yet effective, poetic and not preachy. Ka has lived and is living. A moral code and sense of integrity are embedded into him and now this record.
This record feels like grown man hip hop. It feels like a blues record but it’s not. Feels like a folk record, technically it’s not. I do feel that it is certainly a record of the people. On some tracks his voice may sound raspier than others. It’s not him doing a Tricky homage, Ka in real life is the captain of a fire department in NY, so that raspiness might be just a sign that he had a rather long day at work. I suppose we could say that it’s been a while since his days when he was with the group Natural Elements.
“I want everybody up, If I fail, everybody stuck”, this is part of the hook to the track Everybody Up. This song can only come from a man who knows the strength of community and is doing his best to improve the lives of those surrounding him. I Need All That, the beauty of this track is in that he doesn’t seem to be rhyming or saying a poem per se, he is having a conversation with the looping sample of the piano riff. The end of a negotiation and a call to arms about what has been taken from the community.
A Martyr’s Reward is a beautiful album. A cultural relic. It feels like every word and every moment and every sound is considered on this album. Nothing is taken for granted and as he says on the last track “Havin nothin gave me everything”. But the chorus of the words of the track With All My Heart perhaps best personifies the feeling of this album as Ka welcomes you into his cipher and as you leave, “If I greet and say peace you know you safe here, You safe here, When we depart with all my heart I tell you take care, Take care”.
RIYL: Hip Hop as an older more obvious folk music