Review: KinKai’s latest offering “A Pennies Worth”

Rehana Harmony

By Rehana Harmony

Rehana Harmony

8 May 2020

UK Soul and Hip-Hop artist Kinkai, dropped off his third LP “A Pennies Worth”, last week. On the project, the artist delivers nine solid tracks that feature him imparting delightfully in-depth raps and charming hooks, over a sequence of mellow yet intricate grooves. Amidst lo-fi, boom-bap inspired compositions, tinged with hypnotic lilts. Creating a beautiful body-of-art which remains perfectly cohesive, without sounding too samey.

Although the majority of production is provided by longtime collaborator Glue70, “A Pennies Worth” features the exceptional craftsmanship of two others, Blue Lab Beats and Paya. In addition, to hosting boast-worthy contribution’s from the likes of  Saffron Grace, [K S R], Akemi Fox and Children of Zeus. 

Descending from a confluence Sierra Leonean and Jamaican heritage, he began to grow an affinity for the the music created by his culture. Varying from West African music, Reggae, Jazz and hip-hop. As a result, he became driven to curate his own unique sound, inspired by all of his musical influences.

Growing up in a single-parent household on the outskirts of Manchester. Kai often pens tales inspired by his early encounters with poverty, racism and family affairs alongside more current topics including, striving for success, mainstream ideals and love. 

He exemplifies the rich sounds currently oozing out of the UK’s soul and hip-hop infrastructure, while simultaneously standing on the frontlines for Manchester’s underrated scene, alongside the likes of fellow collaborators Children of Zeus, [K S R] and The MouseOutfit. 

“Better Today” sets things off with a piano-driven backing tinged by the futuristic wails of sirens. A fitting instrumental for Kai to offload his deeply introspective poetics. He raps, “that’s why I spend my days in, because we don’t speak the same layman, nah you wasn’t with me on the train or on the platform, you was praying I was station.” On second track, “Cherry B” Glue70 delivers enticing lo-fi beat-work, adapting to the background, Kinkai lays down slow murmurs that divulge the inner workings of his mind, posing lyrics that challenge mainstream ideals. He raps, “selling all my problems to the world, just so I can buy into a trend. Tryna get the paper to unveil, just so I can spend it all again.”

“Wimmy” follows with a livelier backdrop, during the track reveals his deepest thoughts while reeling off vivid and witty punchlines. The next offering is titled “Top down”, produced by Paya. The instrumental offers a combination of sultry jazz elements, hip-hop idioms married with ambience of neo-soul to offer a smooth hypnotic experience. Which is uplifted by the mesmerising collaboration between Kia and fellow Mancunian soul/hip-hop duo Children of Zeus. Together they show off their musical chemistry, while supplying vibrant verses that paint a portrait of pure bliss.  

“Pensive” – a heart wrenching lament in which he expresses the love he has for his hard working mother, while unpacking the trials and tribulations of family life – and “Worth a 1000” both serve subdued lo-fi moment’s adorned by jazzy lilts. Enriched by Kinkai’s imaginative vocals that detail his deepest convictions. “Worth a 1000” narrates Kai’s understanding of social currency. Featuring two of the north’s most promising talents [K S R] and Akemi Fox, the pair elevate the offering with [K S R]’s auto-tuned verses and Fox’s sultry crooning. 

Sitting seventh place in the sequence, “Plantain & Champagne” comes as a vibey love lament produced by Blue Lab Beats, featuring Saffron Grace. The mesmerising track weaves Graces velvety vocals between Kai’s reflective lyrics that urge his “Candy-cane princess” to stay for some plantain.

“A Penny (Sandalwood)” and “Order” wrap up the project with more atmospheric backdrops and yes, you guessed it… even more thought provoking stanzas from Kinkai.

What stands out the most on “A Pennies Worth” is Kai’s penchant for illustrating the most vivid and stimulating stories with his pen, while switching up his delivery from time to time, almost as though he’s changing character with auto-tuned verse (reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar in a lot of his work). Not to forget the outstanding production throughout.

All of these elements allow every song to have it’s own moment while remaining coherent. 

Listen to the full LP here and on all streaming platforms.