Building on the buzz generated over the past 12 months, with three singles that have gained him impressive recognition from the mainstream radio over here and being coined as ‘One To Watch’ in CNN stateside, Liverpool hailing musician KOF is due to drop An Alternative Soul; a seven-track EP is described as soul music infused with various genres, ranging from Hip-Hop, R&B, Reggae, D&B, Dubstep, Garage and even Folk.
You might be familiar with KOF under his previous stage name Young KOF where he collaborated with the likes of Wiley, dabbling in the sounds of house, electro and grime. Fans of his earlier work might feel his new organic sound as KOF has seen him turn his back on his roots, but the intro track is bound to prove otherwise. “It’s OK,” self produced and written reminds us of his storytelling skills whilst rapping over an eerie drum and bass backdrop, sonically similar to that of later track “Be Like You”.
The tracks that have already been released, particularly the aforementioned “Be Like You” and the more recent “Child Of The Ghetto”, have set the precedence for providinga socially conscious message, which continues throughout the EP.
“It’s OK” shows his potential for diverse delivery, more aggressive here whilst still utilising his soft melodic vocal on the chorus. As well as his rapping and producing skills, “Get Out” much like the subtle “Looking At Me” draws on KOF’s more soulful and organic sounding side. The sensitive record, packed with emotion and fuelled by a mostly acoustic beat driven by Radio 1’s Dev on the guitar, is one of the best R&B records I’ve heard in a long time. Terri Walker also features on their collaborative “Need Somebody” reminiscent of neo soul, nostalgic crackling sound running throughout.
The weaker track would be “Undeniable” – the most commercial sounding record with a heavy rock influence that almost shows off one too many of his influences in what is a short body of work. But with KOF’s interesting mix of live band and studio produced backdrops, he shows his level of creativity and honesty that many other musicians tend to lack.
At a time when UK R&B soul that is not often appreciated in the “mainstream” media is slowly gaining momentum, KOF’s An Alternative Soul EP serves as an appreciated taster for what we can only hope is to come. Marrying singing and rapping will beg comparisons to Drake but music lovers will hopefully be able to give KOF the individual respect he is due.