The Experienced Listener Presents: The Night I Died… I Was Born, by Victor King


The Experienced Listener Presents:  The Night I Died… I Was Born, by Victor King

The Night I Died... I Was Born, by Victor King

_____________*gasp*

…So I’ve been dead to The Kool Kids Table for the last few weeks.  But, in death, I found myself in good company:  the homie Victor King, one of TKKT’s very own, recently dropped his first mixtape, The Night I Died… I Was Born.  For his first effort, VK puts his lyrical prowess on display and leaves no question of his adeptness in the art of rhymesaying.

First off, let me say that I love it when the creative direction of a project is left up to the featured artist.  From the instrumentals to the rhymes, VK’s energy trail is evident all over this mixtape.  The overall tone is dark, yet optimistic.  Rather than mulling in despair, VK stands flatfooted and puts forth images of his struggle; this evident even from the intro track of the mixtape, The Night I Died:

It’s a time for everything, I don’t own a watch/

In this ring of fire, spectators stop to watch/

Here to see me meltdown when the flame’s hot/

I got my eyes on that spot, the one at the top/

There’s confidence in the tone of his voice as he says this.  It feels like, as bad as he wants to arrive at his destination, he’s got all the time in the world if it takes that.  There’s no fear of the wait, and you know what they say about patience being a virtue, and all that good stuff…

Second 2 None opens up with VK stating, “I remember when my only goal was to get 5 Mics in the Source, as Nassir did with Illmatic… But I’ve since lost my way.”  I hear that, and the first thing I think to myself is, “This cat Victor King’s on to something.”  It shows that his art means more to him than the criticism of ‘experts’.  Meaning, the music to follow is going to be pure.

It’s exceptionally done; second 2 none/

Extraordinarily, effort we on a run/

Can you feel the momentum, it’s a hell of a rush/

And after the dust clears, it’s nothing but us/

Produced by TPE, Out Here is one of my favorite tracks from this project.  Out the gate, I love the instrumental; each instrument has a distinct personality, so the sound doesn’t lull you.  It keeps the same “death” vibe, but still manages to keep things energetic.  VK jumps right into the verse:

I keep thinkin that I’m right there, but I’m nowhere/

Where I wanna be, still just a wannabe/

Have these nightmares, and I wake up to the same/

Damn day job that I hate, but it’s gotta change/

Understate saying When you aim for the same/

Dream but you just can’t seem, to get there/

Real hard days, Some say be content with/

What you have… but I’m on another path/

Fuck that, good’s not great enough/

Whatchu gon say to us when we blow, kick it up/

Cuz when I’m on all the time, it’s a slow climb/

But one that I’m willing to take, a sweet crate/

Big steaks on the plate wit a small table/

A big stable to feed, it’s unstable/

Been broke, still broke, barely got cable/

They’re saying the last hope, how can I save you/

That’s what you get before the beat even comes in.  He follows up with killer lines like this set:

Gotta bond with the beat so I tell it things/

I would never tell the world, spill my guts, gotta hurl/

Say It Back 2 Me is a different kind of love song.  The sound is a little intense for the topic, with puffy kicks, brushing hi-hats, and synths that kinda sound like… that real-real dope X-Men 2 game from the days of the Sega Genesis.  But the lyrics of the song walk a familiar path, as VK explains his feelings toward the lady in his life.  The cool thing about the overall track is that it doesn’t sound so… cakey.  Know what I mean?  It’s a love song, but it’s not melodramatic.  It doesn’t feel romantic, but then romance is so facetious and performed… ya gotta love the honesty in the feeling of the track.  It wasn’t “designed” to make girls swoon; it’s just VK putting his feeling out there over a dressed-down track that he selected to spit over.  And he confirms this when he says:

What matters to the heart, I’m no expert/

What matters to the heart, it’s all guesswork/

So I do my best work, when I feel free/

No games being played, bring it in, take a knee/

I like the feeling of the next track, Alone, from the very beginning.  The single synth in the beginning SOUNDS like the solitude VK tries to express, and that’s what I like from any track I listen to.  The chorus makes it all very simple:

Where I go, I go alone…/

Born alone, I die alone…/

If you were me, you would too…/

But you would rather be you; rather be you…/

And VK does an excellent job of driving this simple point home with creative wordplay and flow:

My persona, definition of a loner/

I’m the sole owner, of this small corner/

Of the map, and I stack my cards, solitaire/

What a pair, Gemini, just myself and I/

Nowhere for you…/

Love the overall beat on this track as well.  It’s very simple, but it has a big sound; not overwhelming, but plenty of nod room.  The hard drums sit in the background, somewhat distorted, perhaps under some soft clipping; meanwhile, the “solo-synth” from before comes into the foreground and creates a very intense effect.  Diggin the production on this one.

I also love the production on the next track, Whatever.  A rolling bassline catches my attention from the jump (sue me, I’m southern).  The theme of ‘preparedness’ comes back again in this track, as VK makes a declaration that he’s ready for whatever.  It seems that the track demonstrates not only to his preparedness as an MC, but VK also mentions relationships that went bad in the past being motivations for it:

We was close back then, way back when/

Then we both turned cold, we was frozen/

See that’s both where the story starts and it ends/

I always gotta be right, I always gotta win/

But it’s not a competition, so I had it wrong/

So now I’m wearing the blame, yeah I got it on/

And with that repent, let me move on/

With landmines everywhere if I move wrong/

So I’ma blow up one way or the other/

Needed to part ways, more than we need each other/

Royalty is a track where I feel like VK really flexes his potential as a battle MC.  Not so much that he drops a battle verse, but he fills his verses with punchlines and clever wordplays.  On top of that, his delivery is strong and full of conviction.

It’s hard to focus now, my thoughts are out of order/

I can’t let go of things; mentally, guess I’m a hoarder/

I’m in too deep, trouble waters, floodin my borders/

Ballin’ til the final quarter, tryna get a win/

Kickin a grammar like Grammatica into the wind

It’s O.T., chop it up with me O.C./

Straight edge, I don’t like tryna O.D./

What you see is what you get… Xzibit said it/

Appetite for success, I never fed it/

Never let it bring me to my knees I’ma stand/

Right here, spit it clear til you understand/

It’s not an option that I make it, it’s a guarantee/

I also dig the hook on this track, because it has that same conviction, plus drops some positive energy in the mix:

Don’t forget where you heard it at first/

Rest in peace, yeah I murdered that verse/

Beat deceased, doves fly to the highest peak/

May its soul rise high til it’s out of reach/

I just wanna stand here in this ring of fire/

I just wanna feel the heat, let me respire /

I just hope my words inspire/

Women to be queens and their men to be Sires/

We are Royalty…/

For the sake of time and attention span (and keeping some element of surprise), I’m not going to cover each track on this mixtape.  So, closing in on the end of the project, I’m gonna acknowledge another of my favorite tracks:  Meant 2 Be.

I was born a misfit, not accept that label/

So I hung with the nerds in The Kool Kids Table/

But mostly I’m a loner, so I walk my own way/

Hoody up, headphones on blast, I press play/

Then I’m in my own galaxy, never mind gravity/

Too much conformity, that there’s a tragedy/

Conventional thinking is not a friend of mine, I’m good/

Live for what I do; die for what I would/

I’m not sure who’s singing on the chorus to this joint, but she’s got a nice voice.  Honestly, I would like to hear how it sounds without her voice being doubled, because she may not need the support.  That’s just me.

The overwhelming theme of the The Night I Died… I Was Born mixtape?  It’s all about patience.  In an age where Party Rock is what’s considered hot, this mixtape is not a party at all.  It’s a very reflective, very solemn and sullen project.  But it’s far from the Goth tip; Victor King brings forth strength and optimism from setback and struggle.

…Speaking of setbacks, however, the project does have its room for improvement.  First of all, it’s a concept album, which I love.  BUT, if you have a concept album, there has to be progress and development.  And when you listen to this mixtape all the way through, what you get is the same general statement being reinterpreted over different beats.  Almost every song is about being patient and waiting your turn while staying motivated; honing your skills and continuing to believe you can achieve while waiting for that green light.  But it’s a green light that doesn’t really make itself apparent on this mixtape.  So what the project becomes is a wait in vain.  “Tonight I died, I’m peacefully under the ground…”

…’Peacefully under the ground’?  Mehhh, I got a better idea.  I would love it if this mixtape were a prelude to a larger project.  So, VK, I’m personally requesting— one Kool Kid to another— that you drop another joint soon to follow up this great effort.  Restless souls are more fun than peaceful ones; the story must be completed.

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2 responses to “The Experienced Listener Presents: The Night I Died… I Was Born, by Victor King

  1. The review is a work of art. I’m honored by it. Very deep, honest, and well written. There’s a lot of feedback that i’m going to take away from this as i’m moving forward. Thank you for taking the time to listen and write this up. Your the man EGS.

  2. Well damn! I listen to this project almost everyday and it wasnt til now did I grasp a clear road on how to ” listen ” to it… Thx EGS! And good shhh again VK. I want in on that follow up too! TKKT Bul!

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