Kno
Death Is Silent


2.5
average

Review

by Qwe Qwetherington USER (6 Reviews)
January 13th, 2011 | 73 replies | 6,033 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Having provided his trio with his consistently impressive production since 2001, Cunninlynguists' beatsmith embarks on his first solo outing.

8 of 12 thought this review was well written

This is the bleakest rap record of the year. Kanye's fantasy was more triumphant than dark, Big Boi was content with huge beats and rhyming typical subject matter very well, and Eminem rapped about being back (again) and how he was really sorry guys. So not really much competition in that area. If the album's cover hadn't tipped you off as to Kno's focus, then have a look at the album title. Then the song titles.

Then you've got the actual sound. In his most comfortable setting, Kno lays down oppressive, frigid cuts that still manage to be catchy. Death Is Silent is an ambitious undertaking for a debut, but with the experience of Cunninlynguists' past albums, he's better equipped to pull this off than most.

Well, in theory anyway.

Kno spits viciously in his distinct voice and cadence. His flow is pinched, lacking much of the swagger found in the lines of other southerners, though that's not to say it isn't enjoyable. Kno adds character to his verses through his interesting phrasing and varied inflections. His skill as a producer does wondrous things to his words, shown by how unobtrusive he manages to make his voice sound in the title track. The dark soundscape he's erected, complete with ethereal choral oohs does not feel like it is supporting the lyrics, rather his voice almost seems to rise out of it. Guitar wails on "Spread Your Wings," the smooth, droning synth bubbles sweeping around the album's best track "I Wish I Was Dead" and the wash of bass punctuated by pan flutes on "Graveyard," all of these stand out, but don't distract the listener from what's being said.

Kno should have a very solid album. He's got the beats, he's got the backing, he's got the experience and even an overarching concept. Impressive guest spots (especially Tonedeff's opening verse on "I Wish I Was Dead," where he changes up his flow mid-way through) encourage this "should" idea. He's just forgotten one thing: decent rhymes. At the end of the previous paragraph I said that the beats don't distract the listener from the lyrics. As Kno drops line after line it becomes painfully clear that this is only good in certain situations, to be precise the places in which Kno isn't rapping.

You see, if you're going to have this dark, billowing theme throughout your record, you sure as hell need to back it up. As it happens, Kno's authoritative and oh so serious flow (which sounds mournful in keeping with the whole death thing) are completely undermined. Hell, the opening verse is an exercise in lazily written melodrama:

Death is silent
It hides high in the night's confinement
Vile and violent
While minding a time to try us
And remind us
That we cry when time is denied us
To incite this
Fear of death inside us


So loads of people cry when death comes. And a lot of people fear death. Yeah. Also, the night. It gets even more intense on "I Wish I Was Dead" where he raps about his own death, saying I can feel my blood circulate the whole of my body/cause there’s holes in my body, like a blow from a shotty. This is just a terrible, terrible lyric that sounds like it could have been written by someone who has learned English pretty well, but hasn't yet grasped some of its intricacies, punctuated by stodgy, directionless flow. The story he tells in the verse is, independent of the lyrics, quite good, which makes it all the more frustrating. Kno's try at self-aggrandising badassery is equally awkward. Try hearing cuz I don't hit women, but I'll annoy a bitch in his overtly intense vocal style without cringing. I dare you. Or try his softer, heartfelt side: you were the apple of my eye before the seed was planted.

Without good rhymes, this record and its concept seem overblown, his initially brooding flow begins to sound petulant and the whole album stumbles. The concept and beats become almost cheesy instead of ominous, curdling under the immense weight of too many botched wordings. There are and have been many sub-par lyricists in the world of rap. Ol' Dirty Bastard made up for it with a unique, melodic flow, 2pac with sheer honesty and charisma and Kanye with, well, Kanye. Kno's misstep is that he doesn't really make up for it, and actually amplifies his weaknesses with misplaced ambition.

Next time dude, just try making some decent rap tunes.



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user ratings (202)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
lobby (4.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
qwe3
January 14th 2011



21154 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah had this on comp for ages and forgot about it. rewrote a few paras but i dunno

couldwinarabbit
January 14th 2011



6996 Comments


solid review. Love Cunninlynguists but I haven't/won't listen to this.

lobby
January 14th 2011



1251 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

argh...i decided to downrate it a couple of weeks ago cos Kno's rhymes eventually caught up with me. Should prob change my review.

Also, fans of Tonedeff, be ready for Chico and the Man. Its coming some time in the first half of this year (no release date yet) and will be Tonedeff and Kno teaming up, should rule.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 14th 2011



10553 Comments


A qwe review? Neat, really great review, man.

Digging: Saintseneca - Dark Arc

qwe3
January 14th 2011



21154 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah I had this at like 3.5 for awhile lobby but his lyrics just brought everything down.
i'll look out for that tonedeff thing, he was impressive on this.

cheers xeno

lobby
January 14th 2011



1251 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

if u like Tonedeff, definitely check out Archetype

qwe3
January 14th 2011



21154 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

will do.

Ire
January 14th 2011



41460 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

holy shit qwe review

qwe3
January 14th 2011



21154 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah tell me shit to fix dudes

jrowa001
January 14th 2011



8749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

huh?

DanteCuomo
January 14th 2011



381 Comments


Was really into this album a while back. Probably a 3.5 now.

Mordecai.
January 14th 2011



8256 Comments


neg















jk

Bitchfork
January 14th 2011



7584 Comments


yeah.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2011



23653 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

qwe I should have listened to you when I was about to download this and you said "don't bother" it really wasn't that special.

edit: woah didn't know I gave this a 3.5, I might relisten to it and change my rating I guess,

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

Tupik
January 14th 2011



667 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

meh

alachlahol
January 14th 2011



7423 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

said it 5 million times the lyrics suck fat greasy dicks but ill listen to this occasionally for the beats theyre too good its a real shame

MCGF
January 14th 2011



361 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

very nice review

qwe3
January 14th 2011



21154 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks dudes yeah beats rule but even they get old

qwe3
January 14th 2011



21154 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks phantom negger

Inveigh
January 14th 2011



24192 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

great review -- I'm with you on all points. one minor edit I'd suggest:

If the album's ominous title and bleak cover hadn't tipped you off as to Kno's focus, then have a look at the album title.


album title's mentioned twice there, maybe you meant ominous tone?

also, since I'm sure no one's made this joke yet... if death is silent, why can't Kno shut up too? feel free to insert that into your review ;-)

Digging: Symptom - Caverns Of Katabasis



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