Album Review | Ka – Languish Arts

This album was released on September 16th in the year of our lord 2022. Ka is one of my favorite rappers of all time just because of projects like Days with Dr. Yen Lo, Honor Killed the Samurai, and Orpheus Vs. the Sirens. All of those projects are amazing. Honor Killed the Samurai might actually be a perfect album. I think that shit is incredible. Anyway, Ka dropped this album along with another project entitled Woeful Studies, which I may or may not cover after this project. I was really excited when these albums were released, but I didn’t listen to them immediately because I didn’t feel like I was in the right headspace to cover a super lyrically dense project like this. I was super busy with school and just didn’t feel like listening to that much new music. However, I definitely wanted to make sure I covered this project because by the time I got to track 3 on my first listen I realized that this was album of the year material.

The album begins with Full Cobra, which is fire. I really love Ka’s production here. I mean, I love his production period. I’m always excited to hear what the next beat will sound like whenever I’m listening to his work. The guitar loop on this beat in particular is really tense-sounding. I love it. As always, Ka’s verses on this track are beautifully written.

They’d rain praises with same phrases and younger face
I do this quaint rap, true, it ain't trap, I brung escapes
I valuе that's less valued, whatevеr come in haste
Some watch me, stress the text and copy, some will paste

My only nitpick is that he isn’t super clear with his enunciation one hundred percent of the time, so it can be hard to decipher what he’s saying in certain lines. It’s not really a severe issue though. I love the way the production evolves during the hook. Something about this beat just feels really cinematic. I love it. I don’t know whether I’m more impressed by Ka’s writing or his production. This dude is seriously insanely talented. The best part of the song in my opinion is the third verse. I’m probably gonna sound like a broken record throughout this review just because Ka performs at such a consistently high level. The writing here is gorgeous.

Remember as a teen, I’d get a piece, fiend to use it
Not try to hide it from myself 'cause with ease, could lose it
Just telling my story, glad it’s received as music
It's a lotta wounds in these tombs, please excuse it
Ain't hard to show the scars if I need to prove it
But what I post in the journal, most of eternal as we eluded
Call the spades, if they had their ways, we'd be neutered
All these displays of hate ain’t new, just deeply rooted

This song is dope as hell, but it’s not even a contender for my favorite track on the album. The following song is even better. It’s called Ascension, and the production here is fucking incredible.

It’s a really weird beat that not a lot of rappers would try to rap over, and I feel like the other ones that would try wouldn’t be able to do it as well as Ka. It’s kind of a dreamy, heavenly beat. I feel like the title “Ascension” works really well for this instrumental. Of course the verses are masterfully performed. I really love the writing on the hook of this track too.

Every mention is for hood ascension
May not be a good man but got good intention

The guitar that comes in for the second verse sounds fucking amazing. The verse itself is absolute fire too. That’s where the song really reaches its pinnacle in my opinion.

When you dorm with roaches, every day long as the solstice
I said parents ain't have no bread, I was born in ketosis
Always precocious, never quarreled with randoms, was drawing with focus
Since kids, they tried the colors 'cause only source is corpus
Heed to what they tried to feed they deceiving in doses
Bottom line, not the time for bikinis, Bellinis, mimosas
Never want war, but I'm for sure cleaning my toasters
'Cause when crabs don't go for roe, all I seem is ferocious

This song is amazing. Again, I like it even more than the opening song. It’s dope af. It’s followed by another major highlight entitled No Reservations. This song might actually be even better than the preceding material. Once again, I’m blown away by the production. The piano loop sounds so fucking good. Just like on the preceding song, the hook is short, sweet, and simple, yet beautifully written.

We was sinning for dinner
We did it with no reservations

I didn’t even get that line the first time I heard it, but once it clicked I was all the more convinced of Ka’s brilliance. There are a lot of moments like that on this album. Another example in this song in particular is when he says this…

Always knew talkin' 'bout your gators was crock

Okay, that one’s not as hard to get as the previous example, but it’s still clever. Anyway, my favorite part of this song occurs right before the second recital of the hook.

Too many prophets, that's why no war stops
My lane, they made it bane with cocaine, that's raw rocks
A few banking, it's the new blanket with the smallpox
Corrupt and complicit, that's all cops
That's an exact fact they can't face
Thought the whole patrol was vegan, how they plant base
Made bonds by touching palms with no handshakes
Excites with my words works, time I can't waste

I’m getting these lyrics from Genius by the way, so if they’re wrong its their fault, not mine. Anyway, much like with the previous song, I was blown away by this track. I think it’s dope af. Track 4 is entitled Forgive Me, and it’s also fire. I love the guitar-driven production on this track. The beat is admittedly a little repetitive, and it doesn’t really evolve as the song progresses, but it’s still really enjoyable to me. Obviously Ka rapped super well here. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an unimpressive verse from Ka. As a matter of fact, this song… Well, maybe I shouldn’t go that far. I was gonna say this is one of the best songs lyrically, but it’s hard to even say that because Ka operates at such a consistent level.

Because of where I rеst, been assessed to have lеss potential
It was torrential, just wanted rest, wish it was less eventful
On this cruel acre, to pull paper had to press a pencil
Or full caper, bring it to your chest and the rest essential

Just like with the preceding material, this song has a really straightforward, yet memorable hook.

If I ever pulled a four on you and said "gimme"
Forgive me

The second verse on this track is my favorite part of the song. I’ve noticed that’s kind of how it is for most of the songs on this project. The final verse is usually the climax of each track for me.

Some like how I talk, but I'm a better listener
I live in these bars, might be hard to find a better prisoner
Hard being seen as, and having lived as a nigga
Nothin' tender they flank you, plates just gizzards and liver
Was about to kill, but real friends made me sit and consider
For some life is sweet, I'm beat, all I've been sipping is bitter

There are a lot of lines that stood out to me in this verse, like the one about how lost confidence was a consequence of seeing everyone passing him, or about how they heard him acknowledging shit and tried muting him. There’s really nothing that doesn’t impress me about this song. I think it’s dope as hell. The next song is called If Not True, and it doesn’t stand out nearly as much as the preceding material to me, but I still like it. I’m just not crazy about the sung hook on this track, and the production doesn’t impress me as much. It’s still entertaining to a certain extent though. Both of the verses are pretty nice too. Honestly, if the rapping wasn’t as good as it is then I don’t know if I’d even like this song. I don’t even think the rapping here is as amazing as it is on the preceding material, but it’s definitely good enough to warrant repeat listens from me. I think this track is pretty good; it’s just not really a highlight for me. The next track is called Unindulged, and it features Chuck Strangers of all people. I haven’t really kept up with him over the past few years—the last thing I heard from him was his 2018 album, Consumers Park—so I was kinda surprised to see him working with Ka. I would’ve never seen that collaboration coming based on the work I’d heard from him in the past. The dude ended up really impressing me here though. I did not see that coming. He honestly killed this shit. This is random as hell, but he actually reminded me of Mach-Hommy here, mostly because of his voice. I think he sounds awesome here. He rhymed his ass off honestly.

Copped a crib, it's spatial, see me, two coffee tables
Something for Rachel and the fam, I’m grateful
We laughed, but it was painful as jokes
Every killer I know is playful prior to betrayal, now it’s all derailed
Get it back straight downhill on a fast brеak
We turning bad habits to tax breaks
Therе was me, black traitor heartless
God bless him and anyone he involved with
Knew you couldn’t call it
Tried to give you game they couldn’t reinstall it

This is kind of an extreme statement, but I’m gonna go ahead and say that this is the best verse I’ve ever heard from Chuck Strangers. I’m more of a fan of him as a producer than as a rapper, so I never expected to be this impressed by him. He really did a nice job here though. I’m beyond satisfied with his performance on this song. I like the way Ka comes in right behind him for the next verse. His performance was of course really great as well. The production from Animoss on this track is pretty good, but it doesn’t blow me away like the first four beats on this album did. Overall, I think the song is really dope. I like it more than the preceding track, but not as much as the first four songs. Track 7 is called Touché, and it’s fire. I love the weird, dark, kind of eerie production on this track. I love how there’s barely any percussion. Ka’s writing is fantastic as always.

My hurtful eyes seen all when virtue dies and sin grows
Tried to learn hate sooner, but a late bloomer, wasn’t primrose
Tired of black kids bending over backwards living in limbos
Got a lot of layers, that’s how I made it through winter in them thin clothes

I also love the hook on this track. This whole album has really good ones. I feel like a lot of his most poignant lines come in the form of his hooks. The final verse on this track is definitely my favorite part of the song.

Hard boil the deep hate as a keepsake
Hope the bandage last from the damaged past I can’t reshape
Was just saving the push, kick, flip, wasn’t a cheapskate
All assassins things after the king trying to seek mate
For Pete’s sake I can’t wait 'til our kids’ kids have kids to be great
Preferred early birds, didn’t want to hear them whirly words, she late
Another mouth to feed, anything out the house we need, we take
The pain made K became grade A from all the years they B rate

The song’s got a very straightforward structure, so it doesn’t really throw any surprises at the listener. However, everything here is so well done that it succeeds in its goal of being a captivating listening experience. The production is phenomenal, and Ka’s writing is superlative. The song’s dope as hell. Track 8 is entitled Still Holding, and it features Joi, along with an artist with whom I was previously unfamiliar named GoneToHeaven. The production from Preservation is pretty great, and the rapping from Ka is obviously top notch.

I'm at the point where age can slow me
But not using a doctor, Peruvian maca and Asian goji
How I acted through a phase back in the days, they would stone me
If you're produced to know your roots, stop naming our babies Toby

I’m not really crazy about Joi’s hook on this song though. It’s not that her vocals sound bad or anything. I’m just not crazy about the melody itself. I’m not exactly sure what GoneToHeaven’s contribution to this song is. Maybe they helped with the instrumentation or something. Anyway, this song isn’t really a highlight for me on the album, but I definitely like it a lot. I think it’s dope. The penultimate track is called Family Color. I really love Ka’s guitar-driven production here, and his flow on the first verse is really nice.

Digging up my past, many moments I’ve exhumed
What they afforded me, thought it’d be tumultuous to the tomb
Address each cut with the openness of a wound
When I zone and you alone it’s like both of us in the room

The second verse on this track really elevated it to the next level for me. He fucking killed this shit.

In the heat held torches, some couldn’t hold a candle
Moms said, “be a good boy,” but I had no example
Give substance to seeds, the seeds grow substantial
I nourish and encourage, never tell 'em what they can't do

Sonically, this isn’t the most entertaining track on the album, but lyrically it’s one of the best in my opinion. He rapped incredibly well here. I like the song more now than I did when I first heard it. I think it’s dope as hell. The closing song is entitled Last Place, and it’s also fire. I actually think this is one of the best songs on the album. The woodwind-centric production is really nice—it makes me think of Metal Gear Solid 3 for some reason. Ka’s writing and flow on this track are right up my alley too. This is my kinda shit right here. I live for this shit.

Classmates, we only had one pair of pants, they caught a lot of slack
Tired of eatin' kids meals, to be a big deal you gotta mack
For ascendance, never gained ground defendin', it's 'bout attack
Built knowledge, acknowledge my birthdate, I'm first rate, not a hack
My only dream of bliss, I fiend for this, so if it's not dope it's not a track
Many phony known to phone it in, I never doubt the bag
I'm not dense, I'm not tryna make sense or make dollars stack
But I insist like a dying wish, best gift that you can give a child is fact

The second verse is even better than the first one, and I love the hook on this track. Again, Ka’s hooks on this project are really nice.

This the stuff only suffering makes
This the sound of last place

This is one of my favorite songs on the album. I love the production, and Ka sounds perfect over it. The song’s dope af.

This album is dope as hell. It has me really excited to hear the other album Ka dropped on the same day as this one, Woeful Studies. I think the main reason I enjoyed this project so much is that it was just so short and to the point. There’s zero filler on this project. Ka’s production here is fucking awesome. I liked the beats from Animoss & Preservation too, but honestly I prefer Ka over his own beats. Anyone that’s familiar with Ka knows that he’s gonna nail any verse he performs, so a lot of times the quality of his music is dependent on the production, and I think these are some of the best beats he’s rapped over. Honor Killed the Samurai is still my favorite project from him, but this one is definitely top five for me. I’m looking forward to Woeful Studies. I’m gonna check that shit out right now. Anyway, I suggest you give this album a listen if you haven’t heard it yet because it’s one of the best things I’ve heard all year. I love this shit. There’s not a single track here that I don’t like. It’s a really exceptional album.

Favorite Song: No Reservations
Least Favorite Song: If Not True


Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: A-

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