Pushing the boundaries of imagination in UK rap, Damien, aka King Damiashi, presents listeners with a psychedelic journey into his own castle of creativity. From the London rap collective RK, Damien fuses conscious social commentary, story-telling and street rap with nostaligic, retro sounding hip-hop beats and dark, unusual production.
Heavily influenced by the alter-egos and sample usage by rap legend MF DOOM and the candid emotion found in the tracks of Lana Del Ray, King D merges his inspirations from this unusual combination of artists amazingly well into this project. Speaking on Tyler the Creator’s Wolf as another influence, Damien explains how the album helped his shaping of Kastles to Kingdom:
The way in which Tyler created Wolf made sure you kinda had to listen to it from start to finish, without skipping, to understand the story.
Combined with frequent skits and samples from films and video games, Kastles to Kingdom is unique, original and exciting for the UK scene. The nineteen year old rapper should be proud of this all-rounder. With a track for everyone and anyone with all kinds of interests, the mixtape questions the limits of UK hip-hop and surpasses tradition.
Sonnet Bittersweet Rhyme is a fusion of middle-eastern sounding music with a trippy, jazzy instrumental that could’ve easily been placed on a Kendrick Lamar album. With undoubtedly confident, cocksure lyrics and a laid back flow, this is one of the ‘lighter’ tracks on the mixtape. Inspired by a model Damien saw on an adult TV channel, he speaks on the way in which he formed the track with her in mind:
Sonnet Bittersweet Rhyme actually about this Babestation girl I saw on my way to work [laughs]. I didn’t have the guts to try talk to her though, so while at work I thought if I could write a track for her, how would it go? And Sonnet was born. My favourite lyric on the mixtape is the Spanish bar in this track. I used to study Spanish at GCSE just to use on the ladies but failed miserably and gained a U [laughs] so when I wrote that I knew I had to keep it just to get back at my teachers. I couldn’t tell you if the sentence is correct though [laughs].
RKWORLDWIDEX10 is far grittier and street, without compromising on the lyrical cleverness found on the mixtape’s more chimerical offerings. East London based Showerz features on Begin, the final song on KTK, and the pair work together brilliantly, as do the other collaborations with rappers Bonez and RW.
Whilst some listeners may find the skits somewhat distract from the mixtape, the project works, as a whole, excellently. Some artists go out of their way to attempt originality, and Damien is one of the finer examples of a rapper who manages this fluidly, without awkwardness. It’s as if Damien heard Yeezus a year ago and made a pact to do it better. I’m expecting more mixtapes attempting to push boundaries in the months to come, thanks to the aforementioned contribution from Kanye, but I’m glad King Damiashi did it first and did it well. I’m looking forward to hearing improvements and more boundaries pushed on a follow up.