Lee Hawthorn

Kema Kay warms up for 2015 with new grime track

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Kema Kay

Known for his pop-influenced rap records, Kema Kay has taken on comments from his peers and fans alike, jumping on a Grime instrumental and flexing his ability with bars. While his summery, club-hop vibes provide a needed balance to the regional rap circuit, the emcee from Newcastle’s West End’s rework of Dr. Dre’s Forgot About Dre, for Oh Kill Em showcased a grittier side to Kema that proves his versatility, and denounced doubts of him being simply a pop act.

This new release, Warming Up, comes with a similar style, albeit replacing Dre’s production for some 140 bpm energy, courtesy of Wiley’s Where’s My Brother. The exuberant, intrusive mic presence of Grime’s greatest talents a la Dizzee, Wiley and the like, seems lost within Kema though. Instead of creating one-line-quotable chant-rap that Grime is known for (see footage of Wiley’s Snakes & Ladders Tour), Kema takes a more reserved perspective, using a Hip Hop influenced flow and creating a better overall track, rather than conforming to the structure of the sub-genre pioneered with the likes of the Boy In Da Corner album.

It’s ambivalent as to whether this is detrimental or helpful to the quality of Warming Up, and depends on listeners preferences on the American Hip Hop or British Grime divide. Personally, I’m situated somewhere in the middle, but given that Kema promoted the track as Grime, I’d have liked that raw, aggressive energy and yet I can’t be mad at the showcase of flow. My biggest criticism of Warming Up is the genericness of the lyricism. While there were personal references to Kema’s background, on Oh Kill Em he was dropping names and that made Warming Up’s anonymity come off as a diluted version of it’s predecessor.

All things considered, it’s a good effort from Kema to show off his versatility, and I would love to hear an EP or full length mixtape with him taking this grimier approach to his records,  so long as they’re slightly better than Warming Up. It is by no means a poor record, I’m just confident in the Geordie’s talent to do better and unfortunately Warming Up didn’t reach my lofty expectations of one of Newcastle most exciting Hip Hop prospects.

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