YGA ( O’Kenneth ) – Until It’s All Said And Done REVIEW
By Rahim Munir
Being the last to close the year on your label’s roster comes with some level of responsibility and anxiety.
You get the chance to make a claim by crafting something epic to cement your own status as well as the label you represent. After all, you are able to pick notes from the outcomes of earlier releases by your fellow mates – what worked and what did not- which could be incorporated into your own project.
That was what one hoped for Life Living Record’s O’Kenneth.
For two years, O’Kenneth has been growing his profile as a rapper with an expansive quality. He can deliver a memorable verse – just as he did on Yaw Tog’s ground shifting “Sore”. (It’s his verse that made the song what it became). His hooks often generate a lot of conversation among rap fans for its quality and effortless delivery. Though a player in the whole asakaa movement like his label compatriots, you can point out some good qualities that makes O’Kenneth different from the pack.
Following a string of features on records by JAY BAHD, Reggie, City Boy and Kwaku DMC coupled with his 2019 co-authored album “Straight Outta Kumerica” with Reggie, along with his debut single “Agyeiwaa“, the call for an O’Kenneth solo album continued to grow.
In a year where all the rappers on Life Living Records dropped albums, EPs and singles, the “WHEN” question kept ringing around O’Kenneth.
“Until It’s All Said and Done” released over the weekend was the answer to the question. Made up of 9 songs, the asaaka or drill hip hop sounding tape features almost all the bonafide members of the label and affiliates of Life Living Records. Kwaku DMC is the only label mate whose name was missing on the feature list.
Rapping mostly in English – an anathema to the asaaka style- his dry, gruff voice cut through the beats with, sometimes a sense of aggressiveness and playfulness. But, on an album where O’Kenneth was expected to affirm his claim, he ended up playing the role of a supporting artist.
YGA O’Kenneth kicked off the album on a strong note with “Breaks, a guitar driven, snare, and drum tucked, boastful melodic rap record. O’Kenneth raps “I be laughing in their face/caterpillar later blown to be in the air space/that’s how I know I’d be great”. “Losing Grace ” sounds minimalistic and introspective. Here, YGA airs out his traumas and his coping mechanisms over a sampled record with leisurely spaced-out beat.
“I’ve been losing grace/I’ve been losing weight”, he opens his verse, adding “lately i’ve been smoking lots for the pains sometimes it get me carried away”.
He talked about his mom being worried about his mental health since she’s the “only one” who knows how he deals with pains. ”Losing Grace” is an honest outlook on his life, handling trauma and the effects on his mental health. Traumas and mental health topics are hardly broached by rappers in this country so to hear O’Kenneth being open about it on “Losing Grace” is worth commending.
By the third song, the question of who O’Kenneth is, has been partly revealed. After telling us about his qualities on “Breaks“, his personal struggles on “Losing Grace“, the story arc ends on the hopeful “Hopez” where he stays on hook duties while his compatriots take turns to speak about their ambitions.
On songs like “Nante”, “Gimme Dat” and “Gaza”, the light beam shone brightly on JAY BAHD, Skyface SDW, Reggie respectively rather than O’Kenneth. JAY BAHD for instance came ready to dominate, to make a claim as the best rapper on the label. He was poised, aggressive and determined. Skyface SDW showed his width as the next hype. We gleaned a bit of what O’Kenneth could offer on “Gaza” with his aggressive flow delivered in the same fashion as a UK drill artist.
“Until All Is Said and Done” closes on the same note as the opening song “Breaks'”. The soulful tone of “Till I Finish” featuring ThyWill and its accompanying guitar inflections of “Till I Finish” is ruined by the overly placed reverb on YGA’s voice making it hard to hear his words.
In our opinion, O’Kenneth’s debut album seems like a rushed project. It feels like he dropped an album to tick off a box rather than make a claim for the top prize- more like to advertise new artists affiliated with Life Living Records. You could sense it in his delivery and composure. Apart from “Losing Grace” where he made a deep dive into his personal life, he did not impress much.
These criticisms aside, “Until It’s All Said And Done“, like almost all Asaaka albums, has some songs with replay value. Songs like ‘’Nante’’, ‘’Hopez’’, Gimme Dat’’ are already getting a degree of conversation among music fans. However, on a general scale, the album did not resonate with us like we anticipated. Perhaps, we had high expectations of O’Kenneth and his debut. Hopefully, his next album would have him standing among those to be counted.
Listen to O’Kenneth‘s New Album ‘Until It’s All Said And Done‘