Originally published in the BG News
BRL Score: 10 out of 10 Beets
Just in time for Halloween, producer/emcee Kno one-third of the underground hip hop sensation, the CunninLynguists, releases his aphotic debut solo album, “Death is Silent.”
Anyone who has ever heard a CunninLynguists project knows about the extremely high quality of production that has made Kno and the ‘Lynguists hip hop’s best kept secret for about a decade. “Death is Silent” is no exception, as the dark soundscape is layered with eerie vocal samples, neck-snapping drums, and a wide array of sounds from electric guitar to strings.
While folks will come for the flawless production, they will stay for Kno’s dense lyricism jam packed with witty word play and double entendres. Kno, who has appeared on only four verses in the last four CunninLynguists projects, experiments with several deliveries and more flows on his 12 verses on the record than many rappers will use in their entire careers.
On one of the album’s many stand-out tracks, “La Petite Mort” (which is French for the little death, which is a metaphor for an orgasm) Kno cleverly uses many allusions to both death and sex when speaking to a woman, which includes the brilliant quadruple entendre, “Getting off at your final destination.”
Throughout the record Kno talks about various aspects of death, the most thought provoking being “Spread Your Wings.” On the track Kno speaks about his regrets on an abortion, “So we agreed that it’s a woman’s preference, but if she loved me she would’ve second guessed it.”
Death is Silent is an extremely somber record where Kno touches on a lot of deep personal topics, but “Graveyard” is one of the few light-hearted moments. Kno kicks some battle raps filled with braggadocio and witty punch lines that would make Lil Wayne look like a light weight, with lines like: “I Vincent Van Gogh hard in the paint.”
On “I Wish I Was Dead” Kno trades verses with QN5 labelmate, Tonedeff, who is one of the most technically sound rappers I’ve ever heard. The two rappers tell Slick Rick-esque stories about how they die.
The phenomenal vocal sample on “When I Was Young” will evoke several nostalgic emotions, and is one of the most heart wrenching tracks on the album. Kno, along with fellow ‘Lynguist, Natti and QN5 labelmate Substantial, reminisce on their childhood. Kno’s verse features one of his strongest flows on the record:
“Living in the present like a puppy in a box, ‘The Best I Ever Had’ was my stomach tied in knots/Hopin that my pops copped me some folded socks and brand new draws, thanks Santa Claus, aw.”
The album closes with the two most optimistic tracks on the album, “Not at the End” and “The New Day (Death Has No Meaning).” On the former Kno sings on the hook, “So even when I feel down, I keep looking ahead because I’m here now.” And the latter being an instrumental track which features scratched vocals of a Nas lyric, “There’s one life to live, so live it the best you can.”
“Death is Silent” is not your typical hip hop album; it’s not even a typical CunninLynguists album. In a strong year for hip hop, don’t be surprised to see Kno at the top of the list for album of the year. This is an album that may not be heard by most, but the people who get the pleasure of hearing it, will instantly connect with it.