The King’s Dead, formerly The Dean’s List, recently released “Jerusalem,” which is their first album since “The Drive-In.” The name change corresponds with a noticeable change in style. Do not think they are stopping there, though. They also founded their own independent film company, Verite Films. These changes appear as growth in artistry.
Aziz, the lyricist and MC of the group, rhymes with reason as if he had a recent realization. Alexander, the DJ/sound producer, gives us a refreshing take on hip-hop with a unique blending of multiple genres. And now, let us go on a journey to ‘Jerusalem.’ The intro track, “A Symphony at the Wake,” begins with melodic voices harmonizing in sync.
Aziz comes in with a unique style of spoken- word poetry. A violin then subtly follows, slowly building into a classical orchestra sound. Throughout this intro, Aziz presents vivid descriptions that may make one imagine a spiritual awakening. “Sour Apple Rich Girls” will strike listeners on a more intellectual level than a typical rap song. The title may lead one to believe the song is about a girl, but this track is a statement against a materialistic world. Alexander drops a smooth track, using ambient guitar tones that may calm nerves from the intensity that Aziz creates with his lyrics.
Aziz shows a great deal of emotion in his voice, even speaking French for around 15 seconds. This shows his versatility and intellect as a writer. “Mighty California” might remind one of a night when he or she has had too much Sangria, with the opening lines: “Sangria, Sangria. I’m drinking this one for you, though.” Aziz sings in the hook: “I’m so deep, deep and I know it/don’t pretend you do, just show it/Are we done or what? We faded/Made it all the way to these places.” “Mighty California” is accompanied by a music video produced by Verite Films. Salvador Dali’s “UN Chien” and the classic film “Scarface” inspired the music video.
On “Spacely Man,” Aziz and Alexander show their versatility in style. The track’s hook gives off a “trippy” vibe that may invite the listener to sway back and forth in a trance. Aziz shows his content range on this track. He can make serious statements with his lyrics, but he is also able to create a calm, inviting environment. Alexander drops the trance in the second verse, and comes back with a more classic, jazzy beat. Alexander even drops a sample of “Burn It All” from their first album, “The Drive- In.”
“No Peace in a Rebel” is a complete song, and progresses in intensity. Aziz explains the need for change on this track, when he flows calmly: “The people want change now/ Not a priest on a playground/ or a church with no solution/ they believe in evolution.” Here, Aziz reveals the need for change because current practices are becoming corrupt and biased. He goes onto deliver his personal beliefs to the listener: “And I believe in you/and I believe in her/and I believe in fire/ Let this motherf*cker burn.”
Aziz chooses to not believe in ideas created by others. Instead, he chooses to believe in the people. “Jerusalem” is the title track, and the music fits the content. The music seems Middle Eastern in style, while the melodic chanting of “Jerusalem” by Sid Sriram is effective in integration with the Middle Eastern sound. In the song, Aziz delivers the confrontational batch of lines: “I’m allowed to my music/ high class, God music/ this is what the Heavens play/ show ‘em how the stars do it.” While listening to “Jerusalem,” one will experience something new. Alexander created groundbreaking music. The “beats” blend genres, such as dubstep and indie rock, among others.
Aziz shows promise as an innovative rapper in songs, such as “Jerusalem” and “All Finished.” Overall, Aziz proved himself as an artist and a modern day prophet. With this release, The King’s Dead break down hip-hop barriers and make a statement as artists. The album’s concept is both clear and thought provoking, dealing with coming to terms with religion, money and materialism. In the end, one will feel that he or she has made progress with these issues and found a destination. The album takes listeners on a journey to a sacred place, a journey to “Jerusalem.”