To be completely frank, I hated the last album put out by the KnowMads. I could overlook the arrogance that the group had in naming their latest work Seattle, but what I simply couldn't get past was that, for the second straight release, a group that had showed so much potential on their first two albums had failed to improve, and actually had regressed. While the production has improved (though the skits tried too hard to imitated Wu-Tang and others), I found the content to be repetitive and very indicative of their age (which, even as a guy around the same age, gets repetitive). But the most glaring hole came in the lyrics and rhyme schemes which were at times stale and and other times down-right lackadaisical, often relying on "white boy rap" (aka just rhyming the last word of each bar, and sometimes not even making the effort to do that).
It's more than acceptable for artists to have a down album or two. At the end of the day, Nas won't be remembered for I Am... or Nastradamus (or his tone-def singing on "Street Dreams"), Jay-Z won't be remembered for The Blueprint 3, and Em won't be remembered for Recovery. Instead, they will be remembered for their multitude of classic albums. I consider the Knowmads' first two albums to be underappreciated classics (so much so, that I featured them on this blog's first post), and I consider "Sunrise" to be a timeless, beautiful track, but the simple truth is that they are not on that level yet and can't afford to take huge steps backward.
I don't write this post as a "hater" that I will likely be accused of (funny how that word is often thrown around in an attempt to deflect honest criticism). If you follow the blog, you've probably noticed that I generally write mostly positive things about the music that I post. I don't post songs I don't like and can't, in good faith, place my seal of approval. You'll be hard pressed on this site to find the latest Drake (though some of his older material sneaks on from time to time), Trey Songz, or Waka Flocka Flame. If you want that kind of music, there are plenty of other sites that feature it.
So when you read this post, realize that I have no beef with anyone. As a supporter of Seattle hip hop and good music in general, I wish the group nothing but the best. I simply have a distinct problem with a young group that displayed so much talent on their first two releases and is shying away from their potential. There is still plenty of time for KnowMads to turn it around and, if this song is any indication, they are in the process of doing just that, but the group has to continue to take risks to grow instead of remaining complacent. At this point, the group has to realize that they are at a crossroads. They can either shrink from the challenge and be remembered in their circle of friends for what could have been, or they can step up and take their place among the leaders of Seattle's next generation of rhymesayers.
KnowMads has the potential to go as far as they want with their music, but it is now there choice of where they wish to take it.
Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
P.S. Props to fellow Garfield grad, Tim Willis for co-directing this dope video.