I guess it’s safe to say the rapper-producer duo, King Draft and Jerm Scorsese, pride themselves on publishing lengthy albums, an old hip-hop trend that isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just means the quality of work has to be good enough to capture and hold the audience- and in their case, it is. Live Forever is the duo’s, formerly known as The Kingdom, 3rd collaborative effort. It is equivalent to Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80 – meaning the body of work is exceptional, but the amount of recognition deserved will most likely follow only after the validation of fame. The album is consistent with No Rest In The Kingdom and Kingdom Come, relaying similar messages and maintaining the “Kingdom Music” sound.
The album is brought in with a funky string bass-line over a smooth 80’s R&B sample– a clear indication of what sound the album will take on. Entitled, “Live Forever”, the first song is symbolic of the mental conversation Draft had before choosing to take a higher road- a road that will eventually lead to the fulfillment of his life purpose. King then has the same conversation with his audience, encouraging them to look beyond their environment or filthy roots, and rise. Following “Live Forever” is a skit that reveals how selective Draft is when choosing with whom to interact. The skit serves as an introduction to G.O.M.F. (Get Out My Face) in which King makes clear that he does not advocate drug dealing and gang banging (like most modern day rappers); he instead plans to sow seeds of pride in the black youth, hoping the seeds will sprout into the rebirth of black empires. For this track, Scorsese ironically reverts back to a more conventional rap sound, incorporating more percussion and a stripped down synth loop. The juxtaposition forecasts the versatility and complexity Scorsese contributes to the remainder of the album, as well as King Draft’s unsettledness.
I think it’s safe to say Draft shares Malcolm X’s “By any means necessary” mentality after hearing “Niggas Dying/Lookin’ Black”. The insertion of Louis Farrakhan speaking on the matter is a successful attempt at ethos, pathos, and logos by Scorsese. At this point, it can be inferred that King Draft identifies as some type of activist with the music serving as his podium.
Draft continues his political rant into the next track “Deception”, which is ultimately about how blacks have been conditioned to identify with European perception. The audience is reminded by a vocal sample of hip-hop legend KRS-One, “The deepest part to being black is being African. The deepest part to being African is being Human. The deepest part to being Human is being God..” Again, Scorsese manages to blend contemporary (needed to appeal to the target audience) with vintage R&B/soul samples and “knowledge breaks”. The album refocuses on motivation, leading to the rising action, “All my Life”, in which Draft is seemingly afraid of his career taking off. His anxiousness leads him to question if he wants a breakthrough for himself, and he does, now more than ever, especially due to the birth of his son. “All my Life” is the 2nd foreshadowing of failed relationships to come due to King Draft’s newfound focus. There is a snippet of Jay-Z’s engineer, Young Guru, speaking on the importance of self-motivation to progression. Again, this is attempt to mentally prepare for what is to come for the duo. Despite Young Guru’s presence, the track gives me a “Moneys Trees” vibe, leading me to believe Scorsese is also a fan of DJ Dahi. The album progresses into “Move”. In the song, J. Safina assumes the role of KD’s female interest. He encourages her to have fun in the midst of progressing. It is also an indirect reminder to himself to do the same, since he has not yet mastered balance.
Finally King Draft does come to understand duality, marrying humbleness and arrogance, referencing Maya Angelou, but as a form of validation instead of comparison. His confidence is due to a growing number of supporters and his faith in God, leading me to believe the song title, “Look Out for Me”, also serves as a double entendre. His faith in God keeps him on the shaky path to success. Draft elaborates on this shakiness, discussing the lack of stability in his personal life on “Win or Lose”, while shedding a different light on the psychological effects of a hostile childhood in “It Be that Way”. King Draft then goes on to reiterate that he is fortunate to be steadily progressing into a position where he will be heard. The retro sound is still very much alive with Jerm Scorsese’s use of The Bar-Kays’ “It Be That Way Sometimes” variation. Contrastingly, “Livin'” is a very modern sounding “turn up” record, underlining the stereotypical lifestyle of a rapper. The theme of “instability” continues with “All I Need” and “Ibuprofen”. The former serves as a humbling ode to his lover, reminding her that in the midst of his come-up, she is still all he needs. Marvin Gaye’s “You’re All I Need” lyrics are incorporated as the chorus. “Ibuprofen” follows, eluding that drugs have been used as a coping mechanism for the stress brought on by tending to his career and personal life simultaneously.
Getting into the last few tracks of the album, “Just a Matter of Time” is the last conversation of reassurance Draft has with himself– once again reminding himself that he does not have to be a product of his upbringing. Jerm Scorsese gives us a preview of what is to follow creating a similar sound to J. Dilla’s Donuts. Scorsese then outdoes himself with the next track, creating an epic (and my favorite) track, “About That Time”. In the song, Draft announces his readiness to prophecy, this time without an ounce of doubt. King Draft then decides to refocus all of his energy into his purpose, requiring him to finally distance himself from negativity. This newfound mindset is expressed by the rapper in the last track of the album, “They”.
So there you have it, King plans to “live forever” through his music. After battling with doubt and oppositions brought on by “They”, Draft has managed to write another album that brings light to the black community. The bold choice in samples is reflective of Jerm Scorsese’s feelings about himself as a producer and King Draft’s as an artist. It is also symbolic how big they are going to be, despite the process of getting there. All in all, they simply did it again. As of now the project is complete and set to drop on Cinco De Mayo. I’m definitely here for it.