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“What You Think” from Malcolm Kay

A good beat doesn’t just set up the foundation for lyrics in a rap track; it influences the mood of the music altogether. In the case of the new single and video “What You Think” from Malcolm Kay, the textured pulsations that serve as the percussive backbone of the song not only drive the rhythm behind the verses but shape the energy of their statements. In this track, Kay is using whatever tools he has at his disposal to tell us a story, and it’s a lot deeper than the material element it offers us in the accompanying music video. 

Official Website: https://www.malcolmkaymusic.com/

The flow in “What You Think” has more rigidity than a lot of similarly-stylized singles I’ve heard this year have, and I think that helps to give it a more distinct signature. By avoiding the mundane spitfire approach that everyone has been trying to replicate since DaBaby blew up last year, Kay is telling the establishment that he isn’t interested in conforming – even if it means distancing himself from trends within the underground. That’s bold in itself, and something I would like to see his peers try to do themselves (though I can only assume few actually will). 

Beyond what the instrumental side of this track is imparting to us, the aggressiveness of Kay’s lyrical execution is something that defines the tone and sentiments of his words in a way nothing else could have. He’s putting us in his frame of mind through the actual way he’s dispensing poetry, which is pretty much the only old school streak this single has. If the goal was to get us to believe that he has something to say here, aside from flexing muscle, he authenticates himself through performance over arrogance, which isn’t something I can say for much of the competition. 

This mix is very streamlined, even a little more so than what I would normally enjoy, but I do think it was somewhat necessary to keep the focus on Malcolm Kay’s vocal over anything else here. There aren’t many bells and whistles in this track, but that makes the superimposed angle on our man even more progressive. He doesn’t have anything to compete with in the background, and yet he’s still drawing away all of our attention that could even potentially drift into the other elements of the music. 

I wasn’t following Malcolm Kay’s career before I came across “What You Think,” and though I think he’s still growing into an artist that can enter the mainstream market, he gives us plenty of reasons to stay tuned for more in this brand new single and its video. I can’t wait to see how he evolves, specifically with regards to his relationship with the minimalist and ambient influences in his music, and I don’t think I’m going to be the only hip-hop fan who regards “What You Think” as one of the more provocative releases to come out of the American underground in the last couple of months leading into fall. 

Mindy McCall

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