Feature, News, Reviews

Kai Kwasi Shares Second Single & Video “sms” ft. KTP- Out Now via Play It Again Sam

July 8, 2021
Photo credit: Reuben Bastienne-Lewis



South East-London’s Kai Kwasi shares his second single and video ‘sms’, the latest offering from the 21-year-old songwriter, producer and creative, out now on Play It Again Sam (Ghostpoet, Anna of the North, Westerman). ‘sms’ follows Kai’s debut track ‘unt,’ which was released to widespread praise including from the likes of Annie Mac on BBC Radio1, who commented “one of the best things that we played all week to be honest.” Kai also shares a new B-side track ‘ain’t that just the way’, and was recently announced on the line ups for Hackney’s Visions Festival this August, and Pitchfork Music Festival Paris this November. 

There really is something so authentic and established about Kai Kwasi, a rising star and an artist bursting with unlimited potential, it’s clear this is an artist we can obsess over. The second release dropped showcases that intimate influx captured from the vocal harmonies and the lyrical direction. Once again the moment Kai’s tonality and tender vocal traits distinctly find their path within the exploration, we find ourselves hypnotized by the crisp and commanding vocal notes. Increasingly the vocal harmonies captivate whilst fusing this striking abundance of emotionally charged lyrics with a soft and expressive delivery.

This resonating chorus effect relishes the gentle passages whilst offering this complex ambiance whilst still allowing a minimalist pace, the instrumentation focuses on these few attributes rather than completely jam-packed. The soulful surge of a sultry brass burst into the atmosphere whilst weaving through the immersive journey. By incorporating the silence and space within the release we are all able to cherish the structure and how it compliments the charming vocal tones. The songwriting becomes a vital focus for this innovative creation.

sms’ features vocals from fellow artist and Kai’s friends KarimThaPeasant, as well as Saxophone and production contributions from Venna. It arrives with another DIY video, conceptualised and co-directed by Kai and his collaborators. Shot largely on the banks of the River Thames, it includes a conspicuous box floating down the river that may or may not contain Kai Kwasi. Kai comments; “’sms’ carries the sentiment of what will be will be. It’s about the comfort to be found in chaos when you relinquish the need for control. I got my friends Venna and KarimThaPeasant on the track, both putting their whole selves into the work. It’s a luxury I’Il never take for granted to make the kind of music I’ve always wanted to make, and doing it all with my people. The visual for ‘sms’ picks up where my last track & video ‘unt’ left off. Keepin the same people on board, we just tried to have fun shooting again. We managed to pull the whole thing together in between lockdowns and I think we ended up with something really beautiful.”

With the encouragement of his friends and self-confessed biggest inspirations, including the likes of Joy Crookes, Jiovanni Jemndi, VINO, Looms, and Don Feeble Jr, Kai found a natural home for himself as a musician. On their support, he comments; “Generational talents and my best friends, they all inspire me more than anything in the world and I can call them at any time of the day, imagine…”

His honeyed tones and deeply personal lyricism enable Kai to create a lane for himself, which feels as close to Joni Mitchel as it does Frank Ocean. Influenced by a variety of sounds from Highlife and Bossa nova to RnB, Soul and UK rap, Kai’s diverse references have shaped a musicality unique only to Kai’s upbringing – equal parts Indie, Jazz, RnB, LoFi and Bedroom Pop. Growing up in South-East London, his Mum was a street dancer and his Dad was a rapper, with his musical exposure an intersection of their tastes alongside his Grandmother’s, everything from Mary J. Blige, Kano, and Jay Z to Otis Redding and Drummers of Burundi. Having spent the past couple of years perfecting his craft, the arrival of his debut singles sees Kai Kwasi ready to share it beyond his four walls.

‘sms’ is out now on Play It Again Sam:


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