Kid X is one of SA's more revered rappers. He belongs in the generation of SA rappers that fall between the new generation and the originating OGs of the genre locally. His skill is in fusing Vernac and English raps with an impressive Kwaito style to make bangers.
His latest project to drop goes by the name Father of Zen. It’s a name inspired by the birth of his daughter and an indication of his present state of mind. It's by no means a conventional Hip Hop album as many would've come to expect. On the project Kid X embraces a musical side that sees him doing a lot of singing. Which is not new from him as his previous album, Thank Da King, was also melodically inclined. Thank Day King earned Kid X an important award from the Ndebele royal house for proudly representing their culture.
Father of Zen is a culmination of Kid X's journey in music and growth in life. A lot of the songs are about reflection, while some carry a some wedding vibes. Sonically it's a blend of a few styles including Kwaito, Trap and Afro-pop.
Kid X's flows don't have a conventional structure. He sometimes works in a lot of words into a line and that requires him to increase pace to make the bar. That has made his work hard to digest in some cases. The intro, The Cure is an extreme application of this style. The content is heartfelt, a story of a heightened state of peace and acceptance. The delivery however falls far short of impressive. It's not a strong start
Kid X's singing is rough around the edges. The song Do Better could've done better without him singing the chorus. It carries a strong message that speaks against the current ills affecting women. How men, through power and privilege, continue to abuse women.The verses themselves are too cryptic for a song meant to drive widespread introspection and change. Solo does better to give his verse context by speaking to a specific situation involving Lady Zamar.
The project goes on to include a lot more singing from Kid X, which mostly feels misplaced. African Woman, Umdeni are some of the tracks that are hard to stomach due to the singing. The vocals by Boskasie on Zen struggle to find landing ground. The verse by Fiesta Black on Skeem Saam had better rhyme schemes in her than Kid X cared to put together through any part of the project. Frustrating.
It's unfortunate because this is a heavily sentimental project for Kid X. It's about enjoying a heightened sense of awakening, appreciation of family and being content with life in confidence of what it still holds. All of which was poorly delivered, to the detriment of the project. It's not an easy project to listen to from start to finish.
This year has had a number of uninspiring projects and singles that dropped. There has been a number of reviews that didn't see the light mainly due to how underwhelming the work was. This was almost one of those that didn't see the light. Then again, every project should be viewed on its own merits. That said, this album has been given a number of listens with lots of breaks in between but it just doesn't cut it. It's a weak entry from Kid X. One that will be easy to beat but not easy to come back from. Sigh.