Emerging rapper/producer Kaizen Vibez shares with us his new full-length album entitled Vintage Verses. The 19-track body of work is a return to form for the rapper who breaks his long hiatus from music.  Over indie-produced tracks comprising cinematic textures, he takes audiences through themes ranging from loss, relationships, daily struggles and the power of human resilience.


The day has finally arrived, I’m gonna get what I deserve/Kaizen ain’t really real, man, fuck what you heard


The project begins with  “Psalm 9:18(Intro)” which helps set the tone with news clips of current events followed by Kaizen’s brazen and commanding delivery. Here, he reminds listeners of his past antecedents and his willingness to go the extra mile for his kinfolk with lines like “Don’t let appearances fool you when me and mine are threatened/I’ll bring an end to your whole world like this shit was armageddon/Consider this a stick up cause I’m taking your respect/Indie squad on the scene/Got some troops to inspect”. Next is “Underdawg Flow” featuring DysFunky1, a laidback sombre tune that sees both rappers reflecting on their childhood and the not so glorious life that was once theirs. The lyrics are vivid and they both paint an equally emotionally powerful image of the struggles of the underdog who made something out of nothing. This is followed by “Here For It” and “Something Wicked This Way”, the former is solemn and underpinned by Kaizen’s bravado demeanour and fiery rhyme schemes while the latter comprises brooding scenic textures and warring rhymes from the emcee.


The next set of tracks sees Kaizen running through several topics that show different sides of his artistry. From the. reflective “A Dope Conversation”, where he meets and mentors a young man who needs some guidance to “Three Masters” a conceptual track that recruits emcees Knowlij and UGGGY who come together like 3 verbal assassins hellbent on destroying the perpetrators and detractors who are slowly taking over the rap game. The trio load up their arsenal and proceed to take their foes out with hard-hitting verbal punches. “Vintage Verses” uses a dark rock-pop aesthetic and is purely Kaizen showing off his lyrical prowess and vivid storytelling skills that draw listeners deep into the mix. He also talks about how sometimes we are way too reliant on technology and the downsides of such dependency while “My Real Ones” is a homage to the concept of true friendship and loyalty.


The fun continues with “Stand Up 8”,  an aspirational track comprising brooding keys, ominous textures and downtempo drums underpinned by Kaizen’s uplifting lyrics. Here he implores us to step up and never falter in the face of adversity. Armed with his laidback and commanding flow he instructs us with lines like “The grind is gonna beat you, that is a fact/But you get to choose how you gonna react” and closes it with a spirit-lifting hook. The track “Dragon & Phoenix” dives into never-ending struggles he has to constantly overcome. He is joined by singer Madam Kay Mogul who laces the track with a soul-stirring hook and together they give audiences a thoughtful and insightful piece that is relatable as well. “Champion Era” is a triumphant tune produced by rapper/producer Abstraktius Artimus and both emcees come through with smooth flows and engaging rhyme schemes.


Kaizen continues to show his songwriting prowess as he takes on the powers that be on “World On Fire” and reminds us to be aware of the machinations of the corporations. This is followed by “Veteran Status”, a conceptual track about the concrete jungle war and we follow Kaizen as our tour guide who takes us deep into the action with grit and engaging story-telling. The “Salute (Outro)” sees Kaizen paying homage to everyone who supported him and collaborated with him in the making of this album. The final track “Vipers(Bonus Track)” brings something different to the mix as we see Kaizen shedding his past as he recovers from a series of traumatic experiences. Other interesting tracks include “Receipts” another bravado-laden tune that is ripe with a no-holds-barred lyrical display from Kaizen over an off-kilter wobbly soundscape while “Most of the Dash (Interlude)” is a sombre introspective tune about self-purpose. “Finish What I Started” talks about his mum who gave Kaizen a chance as a kid and gave him a home. Here, Kaizen runs through the good memories and lessons he learned from her while “Change Your Stars, Pt. II” dives into police brutality and how minor situations can escalate into something bigger.


Overall, Vintage Verses is a cohesive and engaging body of work with world-building songwriting, concepts and well-crafted soundscapes that range from dark trap, to experimenatl hip-hop with edgy aesthetics. Kaizen surely is adept with the pen and gives a range of emotions which adds an extra layer to his artistry and personality throughout the album.



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