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Kenna

Make Sure They See My Face
Interscope/Columbia Records
www.kennakenna.com


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 monotonous.

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 reckoned with.

-Josh Page


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