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.
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.