Kenan Bell – Until The Future

Going on past experiences teachers generally don’t make good musicians, just look at Sting for god sake! But here to reverse the trend is teacher turned rapper Kenan Bell. Bell isn’t the archetypal ‘rapper’, growing up in the lily-white Los Angeles suburbs hanging out with his mates who were goths, punks, indie kids and ravers and coming to dislike almost all of what rap has been over the past 15 years. Debut album Until the Future is a culmination of these influences and more, giving reflections on real life issues and experiences far away from the glitz and glamour of the music he detests so greatly.

From the off he means business, laying down ‘Like This, ‘Fruit And Vegetables’ and ‘Chlo’ as statements of intent. This is a man doing his thing, his way and having his say about life and experiences with complete disregard for everyone else.  Bell isn’t attempting to propel hip-hop into unfathomed waters in a new decade, it often sounds more akin to legends like ‘Lords of the Underground’ and ‘De La Soul’.  The well timed, clever, catchy rhymes and intelligent, insightful lyrics are constant, blended beautifully with simple synths and stripped down indie. Together they are a formidable force, delivering a crushing blow against all the clichéd guns, money and bling associated with hip-hop.

It’s impossible to single out tracks for individual praise, this is an ‘album’ fine tuned carefully to be listened to collectively in the flow intended. Evolution is the name of the game rather than revolution of US hip-hop, he has cleverly honed in on all the great things that make hip-hop special and added his own sparkle with no pomp, front or facade, just a passion for music and being genuine.

Rating: 8/10

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Kenan Bell made Playlist #1 earlier in the year.

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