Local emcee KaiLord swings between hope and darkness with mellifluous beats
“I’m riding through the ghetto like the shooters don’t exist.”
This line from local emcee KaiLord’s last project, Sunset Valley, is the perfect demonstration of his upbeat realism. Throughout the EP, the emcee juxtaposes the dark realities of his childhood neighborhood, Del Paso Heights, with relentless optimism.
The next album, Suicide Note, which he plans to drop on May 23, might seem out of left field. It’s a heavy record, dealing with his internal sorrow as well as global problems he feels helpless to change.
“It’s not to say that the Sunset Valley persona was fake; it was just me on a good day,” KaiLord says. “I wasn’t so comfortable outing everything before. I feel like I’m cheating people if I don’t give them my full range of my emotions.”
Sunset Valley, he says, was dedicated to his parents. The title references his dad, an old-school Queens rapper named MC Sun Tzu, who moved to the West Coast prior to his son’s birth. Incidentally, KaiLord isn’t just a rap moniker. His full name is KaiLord Jamasan Low, which in Chinese translates into “valiant warrior who walks with the understanding of God.” (“Shoutout to my dad for giving me such a cool name,” KaiLord says.)
Suicide Note has a certain amount of shock value. And there are times when KaiLord takes it to an extreme level. But mostly the album is just deep. The original title of the album was The Ballad of the Last Pantomime; he decided it was too wordy.
“The pantomime is someone that’s quiet and just observes, and speaks with actions more than words. Often they show sorrow,” KaiLord says.
The beats on Sunset Valley are low-key, sunny and with a tinge of gospel music. Suicide Note, on the other hand, has densely packed loops, with a much higher production value and a darker, more surreal quality.
Opening track “Legend of Icarus” expresses his fear that in pursuit of his dreams he might fail. Another track, “Sinners and Saints,” has him trying to reconcile all the darkness in the world, suggesting that it might always exist no matter what we do.
“Although I’m not happy with the evil that goes on, it’s like, you have to take the good with the bad,” KaiLord says.
Who he is and what he struggles with is more than just the trials and tribulations he overcame in his childhood.
“You can live in the same neighborhood as someone and have a totally different experience of the exact same events,” KaiLord says. “I just took the world a little bit differently.”
Suicide Note was originally slated for a May 1 release but got pushed back as some last-minute tracks are being added. Instead, he says he’ll soon release a different project, a collaboration with ZoeyB called Kidz Shouldn’t Play in the Streets.
“It’s a lot more fun. It’s braggadocious a little bit. It took me out of my comfort zone,” KaiLord says.
It seems weird that he would be releasing a dark album and a fun album around the same time, but KaiLord doesn’t stay in the darkness for too long. He’s an eternal optimist.
“It’s always about progressing through things,” he says regarding Suicide Note. “Even if I do feel down about something, I’m not going to let that keep me down forever.”