Whether it provides a shoulder to lean on or a punching bag to hit, music can be therapeutic for many of its listeners. Every so often our way to heal internally doesn’t require a melody or lyrical arrangement our emotions can relate to, rather the opposite. If we are having love struggles, it’s nice to sit back and escape within a song that is comprised of a quirky tempo and upbeat vocals, like Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”. Pop music usually falls into the realms of fun and carefree music, but the category is about to embrace a new sound with the release of Kottonmouth King’s “Sunrise Sessions.” The California group’s combination of reggae, rap and rock music brings us the relief we need when the going gets tough.
We were only introduced to this group a few weeks ago, but the Kottonmouth Kings originally formed back in 1994. Comprised of Daddy X, Lou Dog, D-Loc, Johnny Richter, DJ Bobby B, Taxman and The Dirtball, Kottonmouth Kings dropped their debut album,” Royal Highness”, via Capitol Records in 1998. If you haven’t spotted the not so subtle marijuana references in the previous two statements, you probably should ask your parents’ permission before you check out the music from the Kottonmouth Kings and the rest of our review.
With more albums released than we can count on our two hands, Kottonmouth Kings never seems to be running out of terms for marijuana. We need some time to catch up on their prior albums, but we’ll work our way backwards by starting with their upcoming release, “Sunrise Sessions”, which drops July 19th. The album includes 16 tracks full of fresh weed synonyms and lively beats.
Opening up with the tune “Stonetown”, Kottonmouth Kings draw you right in and let you know immediately the substance that enthralls the group. The track might sound like a joke as the men sing, “Welcome To Stonetown,” but underneath the pot infused lyrics are unique vocal arrangements and a reggae tempo that is laced with hard rap beats. Yes, “Stonetown”, is an ideal introduction track for a stoned theme album, but the tune also proves to us that Kottonmouth Kings are legit. The Kings do not keep the beat or the vocals stable throughout the track, but this approach works and causes the fun to constantly flow from one chord to the next. The group not only knows how to pass the weed, but also how to intertwine one spunky beat with the next.
Bringing a permanent smile to our faces with the first tune, Kottonmouth Kings had us hooked and eager to coast through the album, “Sunrise Sessions”. Our next pit stop was at “Kalifornia”. The track takes a completely different route than the path “Stonetown” chose. Both songs include fast paced vocals mixed with slower ones, but the blend in “Kalifornia” is more orderly unified. With “Stonetown” our ears leisurely roamed through the song, but with “Kalifornia” our ears can grasp a focal point. The stark contrast between the two makes us appreciate the individual elements of the tracks even more. If you are looking to create a playful album, note that each track must have its own individual flavor. Using the same spice will only drown the fun.
“Back Home” adds another seasoning to “Sunrise Sessions”. The track has a sweet feel to it due to its lyrical focus on the comforts of home and family. If you heard this track at a concert, your hands will unconsciously be up in the air waving back and forth. If the band performs the album in tracklisting order, your arms will perk back up once the tune “Ganja Daze” plays. Along with “Back Home”, the beat of “Ganja Daze” comes down a notch and clinches a smooth rap sound. These two tracks let us feel all the more comfortable with who the Kottonmouth Kings are and how they wish to be perceived.
There is more to the group than their marijuana themed webpage. The Kottonmouth Kings know the ins and outs of music and how to make a tune resonate within its listeners. You can latch onto the words of the humorous tunes or soak in the warmth of the comforting tracks or seek advice in the clever songs. “Sunrise Sessions” is that album you kick back to, but we urge you to not fade completely away to this album because the group’s genius musical creation deserves your utmost attention.
by Lonnie Nemiroff