Last night at around midnight, former Das Racist beardo Kool A.D. dropped a new album, Word O.K., on his Bandcamp. It came out of nowhere (despite that fact that we’ve been waiting for a follow-up to last year’s Not O.K.) and features a slew of guests like Lakutis, Toro Y Moi, Amaze 88, Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire, and even Talib Kweli. Who knows if this is going to be more characteristic Kool A.D. slap-happy wordplay, or serious Kanye-style industrial experimentation. I mean, the guy who directed the Bound 2 video also directed the video for album cut Open Letter, which was released last night along with the album. There are no CGI horses in it. You can watch the video and stream Word O.K. below, then check out my don’t-think-twice review after the jump.
Open Letter: This song starts with Kool A.D. saying, “Just sent this email to myself/I’m gonna read it off my phone now,” which is a great sentiment and a pretty good indication that Kool A.D.’s self-deprecating and goofy lyrics aren’t going anywhere. Amaze 88’s production is lo-fi, high-brow. There’s also a manic horn breakdown—nice touch.
I’m On A Plane: I don’t know if this is a nod to I’m On A Boat, Snakes On A Plane, or simply a narrative about A.D.’s transportation choices. The chorus is sleepy, the lines are blunt, and the production is a mash of dizzying looped beats and mouth-noises. Kool A.D. sounds pretty good on a plane.
Tight: Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire’s heavy flow is a nice foil to Lakutis’s insane country boy persona and A.D.’s pun-play, but even he gets sucked into the weirdo realm a few times.
Naughty By Nature: I think producer Mike Finito sampled some Gchat notification sounds on this one.
Look: A.D.’s soporific cadence works in this song, but in real life, if I were trying to get someone to look at something, I would sound a little more alive and a little less like I was rapping with my face in a pillow.
The Front: The Toro Y Moi force is strong with this one, with production that waves around like a bubble wand in a neo-soul dream. Amaze 88 sounds a little bit like a Muppet when he raps.
Life & Time: Sir DZL raps about kidneys without a hint of a smile and Santos Vieira’s carefully enunciated verse tiptoes over a beat that sounds like the climax of an obscure holiday parade.
Hickory: Talib Kweli and Boots Riley. The beat is crazyyy. There’s also a horn sample. If anything’s getting stuck in your head today, it’s this. This song is really good.
Word O.K.: I’m glad this is the title track, because it’s the album in a nutshell: muted beat bubbles tickle Kool A.D. as he raps about jheri curls, solid gold cojones, and cannabis, all while sounding like he might have to stop and yawn at any moment.
So, what have I learned? There’s a lot going on here, and I’m sure there are hidden treasures still to be found. Kool A.D. hasn’t lost his dry sense of humor and ability to charmingly fit words into places they shouldn’t really fit. It can probably all be summed up by his line in Life & Time: “I don’t fucking know man, I’m rapping.”