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Album Review: K*Ners ‘Voice Of The City’ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Thomas Rodwell   
03 10 2014
ImageThere can't be a single prouder Bristolian than rapper K*Ners. Despite not dropping an album since 2006, he's branded his latest album Voice of the City and successfully name dropped the South West settlement in all 13 tracks of it.

kners_voiceofthecity"Home of Tesco's and Matalan, where the bass sounds dirty from the underground," K* spits on Messy', in a rather unflattering description of his hometown on the record that features the unmistakable Kardinal Offishall. But make no mistake; Voice of the City is so much more than a Bristol tourist information guide. For as K* tells us on the lyrically sublime ‘Close to You': "I've put work in, I can become, UK's Drake and I've just begun".

Is K*Ners, real name Horaine Ferguson, looking to become the mascot for "Brissy" that Drizzy is for Toronto, or is he actually aspiring to match the success of October's Very Own? It's a question you'll ask yourself throughout the LP. In reality, Ferguson's unapologetic, simplistic and boastful bars are more reminiscent of Rick Ross, as he demonstrates on the record's opener, ‘Lonely': "Running tracks like Olympics, old school like arithmetics". It's a refreshingly straightforward, easy-to-listen-to flow, and it's one that he maintains throughout the record. While many prefer the layered metaphors of JME or Chip, K*Ners' style will appeal to many true UK Hip Hop fans.

K*Ners will be touring with Damon Albarn's group Gorillaz this year, and has previously shared stages with heavyweights like Sugar Hill Gang, Mos Def, Mark Ronson and Wu-Tang's GZA/Genius. Sway is easily the biggest name to appear on V.O.T.C though, bringing the bold claim that he's the "UK Hip Hop saviour" on ‘Back in Business', a track with a pure grime beat that'll have you nodding your head like the Churchill dog.

‘Ma Ma Part II' sees Ferguson attempt a change in pace midway through an album of defiant, passionate tunes; and so although the tribute to his late Mother is touching, it fails to sound like anything more than a token "emotional" track we've all seen a million times before. You just can't help but skip to the next track after you've heard it once.

The undoubted highlight of the album though, is the former single and banger ‘Watch You', and it's easy to see why 1Xtra's Charlie Sloth supported the track when it was released in May. If you haven't already heard it, you'll drive yourself insane mumbling the "Watch you, watch you," hook over and over again. Perhaps that's a testament to the quality of the job Kosheen did mixing the track, because it does ultimately stand out compared to the vast majority of the album.

On the whole, the record isn't massively memorable. ‘Graveyard Rap' is centred on overused gun onomatopoeia which offers nothing but an unimaginative description of a Bristol "ghetto" where K* grew up. Voice of the City, then, should be taken with a pinch of salt. It'll take you a few plays, but there are some gems to be found if you really want to look. As good as ‘Watch You' is though, Ferguson's failed attempt to try and replicate it throughout is blatant, and it just isn't strong enough to haul the overall quality of the album up. The fact that you're never far away from a Bristol mention will frustrate even the biggest Bristol fan, and the final song, ‘My Life', is nothing more than an acceptance speech, or a list of credits: and you can't help but think that Horaine Ferguson ran out of ideas.

2/5 

Release date: September 29, 2014
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