In 2 or 3 years, we’re going to be able to look back at Austin’s rap scene and pinpoint the turning point. It feels like 2017 is that shift. With new artists popping up seemingly every month bringing new sounds to the table, there has not been a shortage of good music coming out of the 512 this year. While hundreds of artists still flood SoundCloud with their singles and mixtape hoping to get found, more and more know exactly what it takes to build a brand the moment they come into the game. Austin’s own, K.C.J., is one of those who knows how to make an entrance.
His debut album, Vibes, is not only a great first project but a collection of the best sounds out of Austin. One genre isn’t enough to categorize it as it floats between R&B and Rap on almost every song. An introspective journey that features plenty of heartbreak, nights fueled by lean and drugs and the confidence that grows as you make it through that journey. The list of features is long, but Popped Cherry regulars like The Teeta and TEDDYTHELEGACY make appearances alongside other area standouts like Aaron Moss, the beautifully voiced London Monet, Freequency, K Gunna, and a handful of others.
The standout on this project has to be the production. Mason Flynt, Steelo Foreign, 1080, Polo, Chris Winston, and Atlanta’s Bosssbeatz really help craft a consistent and deep sound on Vibes. K.C.J. is in his element. With any new artist building a sound, a project of this size this early, usually is a collection of a bunch of different ideas and competing sounds. I never got that feeling with Vibes, K.C.J. knows where he fits and keeps it consistent for an impressive 15 songs.
- Hallelujah ft. TEDDYTHELEGACY – This catchy single produced by 1080 really captures the sound of the entire project for me. Teddy adds some depth to the hook and K.C.J.’s catchy “Got a lot of diamonds like I just bought the Jeweler” is going to have this one on repeat for a long time.
- No Love ft. Aaron Moss, The Teeta – One of the singles that dropped before the project, has racked up over 25k plays on SoundCloud. Produced by 1080, No Love is an angsty anthem for showing no love to haters, girls, and anybody that isn’t rocking with you. Teeta’s verse is top notch. This is one of those rare songs that you could play in the club, in the whip, and by yourself.
- All Day – One of the more rap centric songs on Vibes is the first one. Produced by 1080, All Day starts the tape off with a banger. K.C.J. impresses me with his ability to open up emotionally, have it be relatable and still catchy enough to keep on repeat no matter the mood I’m in. This is a great one.
I’m excited to see what comes next from K.C.J., he has definitely staked his share of the scene and shown that he can build and curate an incredibly deep project full of features and producers. Sometimes that skill is far more important then who has the best rhymes or flow. For that stuff will come with practice and more hours in the studio. For right now, K.C.J. knows the scene and what makes it tick as good as anybody. Listen to Vibes below and find the project on Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, and Google Play.