Review: Ka – Descendants of Cain

Brownsville rapper Ka is back for his seventh album, Descendants of Cain. As you may remember, this particular rapper often raps about his surroundings and street tales but filters it through unique themes. Honor Killed The Samurai revolved around the theme of samurai, and his last album, Orpheus vs. The Sirens (his collaboration with Animoss as Hermit and the Recluse, my #1 album of 2018), was themed around Greek mythology.

As the title implies, this album’s theme centers on the Bible, mainly the book of Genesis and the story of Cain and Abel. We all know about that particular story of Cain murdering Abel and the concept of Biblical justice, and that has its parallels with today’s violence in ghettos and injustices in American society.

I know going into this album, the production will be minimal on the percussion as always, but everything else instrumentally from the strings and piano to the horns and guitar would be hauntingly effective in his storytelling and delivery on his verses. Once again, he proves why he is a compelling rapper and this album is not to be slept on.

“Every Now and Then” begins as another staple of his albums with excerpts from movies relating to the theme alongside a psychedelic synth as he’s starting his street narrative.

No rush for structure, we was freewheelin’
Need money to shuffle, that’s why we in the street dealin’
Ain’t adore being on the floor, wanted to reach ceilin’
Service from the borough of churches, where they preach stealin’
Only told truth, they gave loops with no fruits
They deeds disease the seeds, I produce produce
Was dropped in Gotham, I had to blossom to grow roots
Chase the product, got up on his shoulder with no boost

That segues into the song “Unto the Dust” which is a reference to the biblical verse Genesis 3:19, about the creation of life and what happens to your body when you die, mainly paralleling his youth growing up with his cousins, selling coke, and living in a house with two religions. Also, the line, “My tool’s fire move quiet, but the plan sound“….that is some nice wordplay. “Patron Saints” follows that with Ka saying that he had bad role models to follow when he was younger as they’re drug dealers.

“My Brother’s Keeper” and “Solitude of Enoch” has more direct references to the main theme with the cycle of people killing their friends, whom they’re treated as brothers, being akin to Cain killing Abel. The one example I thought of something like this is New Jack City when Nino Brown shot G-Money near the end of the movie.

It’s hard to say, every sentence is pain
Brothers killing brothers, descendants of Cain
Props if getting knocked, and no mentioning names
I had to steel, all that time I spent in the flame

Oh and this little tidbit of “The Eye of the Needle”…

The style Ka utter is highbrow gutter
Even though the sound’s brown, the crowds now hover
Can’t appreciate winnin’ if one never fails
Played all games in change, I gotta have the tails

I like the way he describe his storytelling here, as it’s that grimy, dirty, street talk but with a POV that can tell it in an intellectual way, and there is one more detail that was shared before on the last album: family. This is mainly about his boy Kev aka Oddbrawl the Lyrical Juggernaut in the duo Nightbreed with Ka. Ka mentioned on the track “Hades” from Orpheus vs. The Sirens that he died in a car wreck in 2015, and he is also mentioned again in the final track “I Love (Mimi, Moms, Kev)” with the other two being Mimi, his wife, who has credentials of being editor-at-chief at Vibe Magazine and encouraged him to continue rapping when he decided to give it all up back in 2003, and he also pays tribute to his late mother as well.

None observed it was on the verge of crackin’
‘Til you said I had a gift, when you heard me rappin’
With your warm responses I was taken aback
Former partners had me feelin’ like what I was makin’ was wack
Didn’t offend me, saw some in me, I was blind to
Who knew to finish findin’ me, I had to find you

Usually, Ka is the main one producing his own works, but he had some help this time around with DJ Perservation, his boy Animoss returning back for a few tracks, and Roc Marciano who not only produced a track for him but is the lone feature on the album on the track “Sins of the Father,” and this is my favorite song here from the ominous piano production to the haunting background vocals with these two delivering excellent verses.

Days we was forced to fast, prayed for rapid nights
Truthfully, won’t see the future moving with parasites
If mentors ain’t dispense with war, you got bad advice
They say “rest in peace” the only peace we gatherin’
Another track and field, leadin’ with the javelin
Was only schemin’ ’cause couldn’t reason with my abdomen

It’s a dirty game of chess and checkers
Get paid or be left naked and desperate
I lit a candle and played Jamaican records
Prayed and rested next to my favorite weapons
Saved my bread up and then made my exit
I’m going back and forth with thoughts of quittin’ like table tennis
But what’s the game if the players ain’t in it?
Every pen ran out of ink on the day this was written

Once again, this is just a top-tier album by a rapper whose pengame is not to be messed with, as Ka always delivers his rhymes very straight-forward with no frills or filler: just raw grit and storytelling from a perspective that knows what he’s talking about and does it on production that never require percussion. This may be me repeating a lot of what I said about him on Orpheus vs. The Sirens but it remains true here.

FINAL VERDICT: Buy It. The style Ka utter is highbrow gutter and it’s fantastic.

Descendants of Cain is on Iron Works Records and it’s available on digital download and streaming services. It is available to purchase on his website.


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