Quality melodic hip-hop isn’t as easy to come by as a lot of critics will tell you, but for one artist this September, turning out one smooth jam after another hasn’t been much of a problem all summer long. I’m talking about Sanya N’Kanta, whose debut album The Counterfeit Revival has been the subject of critical acclaim in recent months on the strength of its cornerstone singles, “Can’t Stop Thinking Bout You” and the recent “I.C.E. at the Door.” The latter of the two tracks is out now with a profoundly creative music video in support of its release, and I think it could be the most mature piece of material we’ve heard from him so far.
The bassline here has formidable presence that makes its textures anything but escapable, but it’s never made to protrude into the defined space set aside for the vocal – Sanya N’Kanta has too much to say in this song to allow for his voice to be obscured by indulgent noise. His melodic wit inserts itself between the fuzzy percussion and the pulsating bass part, inevitably drawing our attention to his half-sung, half-rapped lyricism while still giving plenty of the spotlight over to the instrumentation in the track.
Lyrically, this is the most provocative song on The Counterfeit Revival, and I don’t think you have to be a professional critic like myself to pick up on his personal investment in the narrative espoused by the verses. This isn’t simply about the harassment of undocumented immigrants by an overzealous authority so much as it’s meant to highlight the nature of injustice as it exists in America in general, and though it was written before the second major wave of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, it echoes the sentiments of that movement rather hauntingly.
This is unquestionably one of the tightest mixes I’ve listened to in R&B or rap this year, and I really like that everything in the instrumentation has a place within the arrangement. There’s nothing muddled together or unnecessarily stacked as to create a pseudo-layered stereophonic finish – from top to bottom, this is a linear master mix that puts most of the emphasis on the lyrical lashings of Sanya N’Kanta, who definitely issues one of the sharpest vocal deliveries of any included on his rookie LP. He believes in this message, and more importantly, inspires us to follow its meaning as well.
A bold hybrid of styles that doesn’t overthink itself (a rarity for this kind of a track), the single and music video for “I.C.E. at the Door” has a mainstream appeal that you would have to be crazy to miss even in the most cursory of sit-downs with its beat. Sanya N’Kanta is still in the process of establishing himself to the fans and critics on either side of the underground scene, but as long as he remains dedicated to the model he’s so elegantly taken control of in this release, he’s going to be just fine moving forward.
Donate to IndiePulse Music Magazine’s Academic and Music Education Scholarship Program HeartBeat4Kids
IndiePulse Music Magazine creates Scholarships to help Youth In Need of assistance to complete their educational goals and stay in school.