Tardy Album Review | K, Le Maestro – Lab Sounds

This album was released on August 2nd this year. I’ve been making an effort to check out more instrumental Hip Hop releases this year, and I saw some positive reception for this album in particular, so I decided to check this dude out. I listened to his debut album, Hue., and I ended up thinking it was great, so I’m looking forward to this project. There was a lot of Dilla influence on Hue., so I’m pretty much just expecting more of the same with this project. However, this seems to be his first album since 2016, so I’m sure the production will be a bit more detailed and seasoned. I’ll be shocked if I don’t end up liking this honestly. Anything’s possible though I suppose. I’m actually going to be reviewing the Apple Music version of this album; the Bandcamp version seems to have one extra bonus track, so that’s cool. I might actually check that song out, but this review won’t include thoughts on it. I might tweet about it. Anything could happen. Stay tuned, y’all.

This shit is great. This ended up being exactly what I wanted. There’s not a single song that I don’t like, so I’ll talk about the whole project in the proper order of the track listing. It starts with 5-0, which is actually one of the weakest songs on the album in my opinion. It’s still good though. It has a more modern, less smooth sound than I was expecting. It’s not exactly a Trap beat, but I could see a more street oriented MC like Young M.A. spitting over it. I actually think Rowdy Rebel would sound perfect over it. It’s a good track. The following beat, Sinister, has a more vintage, Boom Bap sound. This one sounds more like something Clear Soul Forces would spit over. I also feel like Freddie Gibbs would do well over this beat. I really love the percussion on this track. The loop is pretty repetitive, and it kinda gets old after a while, but I still really like the song. It’s dope. Track 3 is called Life Luxury, and I don’t like it quite as much as the preceding track, but it’s still pretty good. It’s smooth as hell, and has kind of a celebratory atmosphere. It reminds me of early Pro Era type shit. It’s not a super exciting instrumental or anything, but it’s definitely enjoyable to me. It’s just a very pleasant, lighthearted sounding beat. It’s pretty good. Game Over is the first major highlight for me. This is pure Mega Ran material. K sampled the Final Fantasy theme, and it’s glorious. It’s definitely the best track up to this point on the album. It’s dope af. However, the following track is even better. Meninha is probably my second favorite instrumental on the album. I really wish y’all could’ve heard my vocal reaction when the beat dropped. This would be perfect for an EXOCIETY artist like Rav. This shit is smooth as fuck. It’s amazing. I love it. It’s dope af. The following track is called Blossoms, and this one kinda confused me because it originally appeared on Hue. The version on that project was called blossoms_[RWRK], but it seems to be identical to this version. It was one of my favorite tracks on that project, and it’s still very good. This’d be perfect for Noveliss. Apple Music has this album labeled as a “compilation,” so maybe a lot of these beats are old. I don’t know. The song is dope though. It’s followed by another highlight on the album for me, Dem Boyz. This shit is fucking fire. This motherfucker flipped one of Wiz Khalifa’s worst singles ever, and somehow turned it into one of the best beats on the album. It’s smooth as hell, and the vocal flip from Wiz is perfect. This would’ve been perfect for Logic back when he was still making good music. It’s dope af. I think the following track, Life, is my favorite song on the album. Once again, I wish you guys could hear my initial vocal reaction to this song because I lost it. This shit is amazing. I think it’d be perfect for Joey Bada$$. The beat is just really pretty and melodic. It’s smooth as hell. I love it. I think it’s amazing. It’s followed by Raw, which is a more gritty, lo-fi beat that I could see someone like Blu spitting over. I like it a lot, but it is admittedly a little simplistic. However, it’s not a low point on the album for me. I think the simplicity works to its benefit. It’s really dope. Track 10 is called Earl, and it’s fucking fire. As the title suggests, this would be great for Earl Sweatshirt, but not current-day Earl. This sounds more like Doris-era Earl to me. The beat is really off-kilter and kinda Madlib-ish. It’s another one of the best songs on the album to me. It’s dope af. The 11th song is called At Heaven’s Gates. This is the only track that I don’t really have much to say about at all. I like it, but it’s just a bit repetitive in my opinion. The only artist that came to mind when listening was Lupe Fiasco for some reason. The song is pretty good, but not one of my favorites. Deixaeu is another celebratory sounding instrumental. For some reason it kinda reminds me of that Fresh Veggies mixtape that Rockie Fresh & Casey Veggies dropped around 2013. I also feel like Bas would sound good over it. It’s dope. The penultimate track is called Pyrex, and it’s one of the weakest songs in my opinion. I think the beat is cool, but the loop is just really repetitive. There’s not a lot going on. It probably didn’t need to be two and a half minutes long. I like it though. Once again, I can see Joey Bada$$ using this, but I feel like it’d need to be a bit more fleshed out. It’s still a good track though. The final song, Coastin’, is another highlight for me. It’s one of the most detailed instrumentals on the whole album. It has a more electronic influenced sound than a lot of the other beats, but it’s still Hip Hop at its core. It’d be perfect for a West Coast MC like Nipsey Hussle or The Game. It’s the longest track on the album, but the beat is so intricate and layered that it doesn’t overstay its welcome at all. It’s amazing. 😀

This album is great. I actually think it might be one of the better instrumental albums I’ve heard in 2019. I don’t know for sure though. I’d have to see a list of everything I’ve heard to be sure, but this would probably make a top 5 list. If not top 5, then definitely top 10. I’m really glad I checked this dude’s stuff out because he’s really talented. He’s versatile too. He doesn’t just stick to one sound here. There’s gritty lo-fi stuff, West Coast influenced stuff, and even more street stuff that I could see gangsta rappers spitting over. I’m not sure if K strictly releases instrumental stuff or if he ever gives his beats to rappers, but I’d definitely like to hear some of my favorite artists spit over his shit. I really don’t have any consistent gripes with this project. This shit is dope. Don’t sleep on it.

Favorite Song: Live
Least Favorite Song: Pyrex


Score: B+

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