In 2015 Kayla Starks entered my playlist. It was the perfect timing; a time when I was honestly hungry for some really good lyricism. Kayla proved to be the right talent I was yearning for. This American high school graduate at the time was God sent. 2017 is here, and she still easily remains a favorite.
In January this year, her new album, “The Crown”- a straight to the point 10-track body of work was released. If you’ve never heard of Kayla, I’m honoured to introduce to you another treasure of art.
Who is Kayla Starks?
Not just female MC’s but all of hip hop was in trouble when Kayla started gaining traction at age 18. Two days after graduating high school, she dropped her mixtape To Be Honest on May 30th, 2015. The mixtape (which was her introductory project to me… or so I’d like to think) proved a few things. First, her mastery over the rap/hip hop genre and music in general is unprecedented, especially for such an early age. I say so because we often see artists mature to a certain commercial level as the years go by. But at the moment, Kayla isn’t at all green. Secondly, her oddly attractive voice is pure heaven when she sings. And lastly, her drive and passion is strongly motivated because her Maker feeds her fire.
Starks decided to home-school in high school. And for what reason? She wanted to make more time for the call on her life. Boy that blows my mind! It’s so inspiring and weird at the same time, but that’s just because I keep on playing the age card in my subconscious. So who is Kayla? One sentence… a fierce dreamer holding nothing back!
Yes you don’t have time to tweet when you’re really making moves
But when you come first people have to follow you
Line leader. Ma generation dead, gotta feed ’em
Youngin with a way tryna see Him
Kayla Starks – Youngin
- Theopnuestos (2014)
- To Be Honest (2015)
- Outlasting Seasons (2016)
- The Crown (2017)
Talk about consistency!
Let’s talk about THE CROWN (2017)
Honestly, I think anyone would have a hard time picking a favourite song from this album. As cliché as this may seem, I believe this is Kayla’s best work yet. All the songs have this beautiful ‘weaving-together’. It’s almost impossible to single out one song to listen to. I end up listening to the whole album every time I try doing that.
When I first downloaded the album and played quickly through some of the songs, I wondered if I would like it. I had just done a similar run through Eshon Burgundy’s The Passover album and so I was all heated up for some mind roasting bars on trap beats. On the contrary, I was served with a different shade of Kayla. She hadn’t quit rapping but her singing which quite dominates on this project was something I wasn’t mentally prepared for. However, I missed out on Outlasting Seasons and that could very well be the season in which a metamorphosis took place.
A few days later, I revisited the album. I was blown away! It’s was so good, I had to blog about it. My girl was ‘beasting’ in the dopest possible ways track after track (Enough said!).
The album’s production and mixing is top quality; quite a noticeable improvement over earlier works. Listen to Youngin which features Street Hymns. You’ll get my point. It is the peak of production brilliance.
In the area of collaborations, whoever executively produced the album definitely knew what they were about from the onset. Similar to the 2015 mixtape, The Crown kicked off with a Spoken word featuring Tal and Rexuise (I don’t know these guy(s) but they sure killed it!). The next times we hear different voices are on MIA and Youngin which invite the talents of Sean C. Johnson and battle rapper extraordinaire Street Hymns respectively. On Dream on Dreamer, Clark Beckham, Emmanual Williams, Sasha Kashperko, Brandon Kelly & Allie J. Harper do an angelic job as backing vocalists. This sets the stage for the ninth track I Don’t Need You where Kayla sings about how she needs to be somebody before she needs somebody- a perfect emotional piece before the curtain is drawn with the livelier Live It Up.
Kayla Starks is as transparent as any great artist can be on The Crown. She definitely does a much better job of painting a beautiful picture of herself with her words on the album than I could ever do with this blog post. Three words- Kayla is Bae!
Like turn up turn up. Y’all got me breaking a sweat
Tell ’em haters “take a break and join the rest”
The devil shoulda killed me when he had a chance
Cos I know I have a purpose. It’ll never fail
Kayla Starks – Live It Up
Watch Kayla Starks – Dream On Dreamer (Official Music Video)