Review: The unknowing hunter: Karl Sage sets the standard in an overpopulated class

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The world may feel like it is a cap­sule for float­ing thoughts of cats and dress code, but like com­mon sense, intel­li­gence is some­thing hard to come by. Intel­lec­tu­al debate and stim­uli has been driv­en under­ground by move­ments that seek to inca­pa­cit­ate sound logic. This illu­sion­ary con­di­tion is brought about by an end­less state of indoc­trin­a­tion whereby its value relies on the alive­ness of insti­tu­tion­al­ised inform­a­tion. Where do we go from here? Is it up to the pub­lic to tran­scend bey­ond the form of ignor­ance, or do we endure and prof­lig­ate?

There are altern­at­ives, though its effect­ive­ness relies solely suc­cess­ful without the ego. Hip-Hop was launched as part of that altern­at­ive, and an altern­at­ive that has since dis­carded its main con­trib­ut­ors of pen­man­ship and rebel­lion in exchange for a more cap­it­al­ist approach. Where has my kind of Hip-Hop gone?

Most recently, I decided that the search for this ‘my kind of Hip-Hop’ became a quest, the mes­sage it once spread by the micro­phone now lost, no treas­ure map in sight to aid in such a con­quest. But why and what happened to the gloomy pho­to sig­na­ture music I love? I ask this ques­tion just as it reappears. And you know what they say, be care­ful what you wish for.

Sit­ting is a way to hinder energy, so we talk as I pho­to­graph him. Karl Sage is a rap­per you’ll be hear­ing a lot more of over the com­ing years if his music is any­thing to go by. I first hear his mater­i­al sit­ting in a café, the first track blares into my ear drums, ‘Zon­ing Out’ from his EP — The Hunter. As its pro­duc­tion con­veys a relaxed instru­ment­al, Karl’s vocals com­pli­ment songs that pair well with the lyr­ics he pro­fesses. It would be easy to assume he has already signed with a com­mer­cial label. But that is not the case, as he leads his EP off a jointly run ven­ture with busi­ness part­ner and friend ‘GGPeney’.

When I first touch base with Karl, he is work­ing on an album while his EP cir­cu­lates the under­ground mar­ket shortly before its launch party. Innov­a­tion has been a key part of Karl’s man­tra, pro­du­cing CD EPs in artist­ic­ally craf­ted box sets and tin cam­ou­flage edi­tions, selling his art in works of art. Liv­ing in the age of a 15 minutes of fame enti­tle­ment has made it harder for musi­cians to break through. Stand­ing out has nev­er been so import­ant. The first piece of music to deploy, and pro­mo track ‘Take a look around you’ provides enough heat to dis­reg­ard the oth­er tracks, but as I press on, fur­ther songs includ­ing ‘Gor­gon’, ’Breathe’ to name a few are test­a­ment to the work eth­ic and qual­ity Sage has put into his pro­duc­tion.

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Karl’s demean­our, humble and for­ward think­ing presents itself like a pol­ished gem­stone. It is easy to slip into the cliché com­par­is­on box when listen­ing to new mater­i­al and at first I do this, weigh­ing sim­il­ar­it­ies between Nas, Com­mon and Talib. Though my con­clu­sion finds this an escape from accept­ing the fact of his ori­gin­al­ity. In a few years to come, we may find these aspir­a­tions in oth­er rap­pers, as the impacts for music­al flu­ency turn rare. Today, Hip-Hop largely pon­ti­fic­ates rather than send mes­sage.

Half way through our shoot, we retire to his home for a while to plan the next steps of the day. As we do this, Karl pre­views the next line of work he has to release, free­styl­ing over it as I listen in a chair oppos­ite him. The deliv­ery and con­tent can­not be faul­ted, everything, from the use of his­tory to his use of lan­guage are in con­text with a pro­duc­tion suit­ing his per­sona.

Although Karl is con­scious of his cur­rent release ‘The Hunter EP’, it is evid­ent his mind is else­where, with focus shift­ing toward his album. Being wit­ness to sparks of geni­us, music pro­duced by his friend ‘ggpeney’ and a warm up ses­sion ‘The Hunter’ makes one anti­cip­ate the release of his album far more than any oth­er I have listened to. His EP con­tains enough fire to burn wood for a long time to come.

Bring­ing solid churns of wax lyr­ic­al it is obvi­ous Karl’s effort was effort­less. And I expect no less from his upcom­ing album. Do not for one second sleep on this EP, and if you do make sure it is because you were up all night listen­ing to it.

Pho­to­graphy by Ty Faruki 

Down­load The Hunter here

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rish­ma Dhali­wal has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rish­ma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.