Looking to break into the mainstream, Ethiopian-born Kenna
has pulled out all the stops on his new album Make Sure They
See My Face. A 12-song non-stop electro-party co-produced
by Chad Hugo of The Neptunes, it will surely be
unlike anything you've heard before. In what must be heard to
be truly understood, Kenna takes hip-hop beats, stirs them with
dance synths and overlays it all with lyrics that tend to read
off sometimes like slam poetry.
The first track, "Daylight" is a beautiful opener that
really gives the listener a recapped proclamation of what Kenna
is all about. Sounding like Daft Punk's urban cousin, angelic
vocals shoot up around an electric orchestra of synthesizers while
Kenna chants prolific mantras: "We all want to rise, and
the seconds, they fly by." Other poignant tracks include
the Timbaland-esque "Loose Wires/Blink Radio"
and the ultra-infecting "Say Goodbye to Love", both
of which drill themselves into the listener's mind through repetition
and grooves that could move statues.
However, there is a downside to the constant bass-thumping and
synth-stretching on Make Sure They See My Face; after a
while, it becomes more like a massive head-ache than an electro-celebration.
There is little break from the high-energy, and with many songs
feeling overtly similar, one can't help but ponder why the disc
isn't four to five songs shorter. While Kenna's poetic lyrics
are prevalent here, many times they get lost among the thunderous
drum machines and beeps and synthetic chirps. Those familiar with
his earlier work might become frustrated that there aren't enough
tracks like the beautifully melancholy and hypnotic "Hell
Bent" from Kenna's first major label release New Sacred
Cow. On this aforementioned track, he seamlessly weaves his
vocals with haunting lyrics and the cold chrome of his synthesizer.
However, such perfected cohesion feels absent from many of the
tracks on his new release. Although the emotional and piano-driven
"Be Still" does offer a restful (and crucial) break
from the aggressive onslaught of the other tracks, it isn't enough
to keep Make Sure They See My Face from becoming slightly
On "Loose Wires/Blink Radio", Kenna asks "Isn't
it electric in here?", and with a resounding "yes!"
it can't be denied that maybe there is a little too much of it
pumping throughout the veins of Make Sure They See My Face.
And it's a little ironic that with such a title Kenna and his
impressive vocals and lyrics are pushed into the background behind
all the recording studio goodies that editing so aggressively
pumped it full of.
Now, this disc isn't bad or even that mediocre; it definitely
is entertaining and has a few gems that stand out, but for his
next release, fingers will be crossed that Kenna will be able
to execute a much more balanced album. When this happens, watch
out world, because Kenna will definitely become a force to be
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