Loud and Clear is clear and loud
That Kid Raja’s new digital release has a polished feel and a distinctive vocal sound
Sacramento musician That Kid Raja dropped an album last Friday called Loud & Clear, which doubles as a pretty accurate description of Raja Seivwright’s vocal quality.
Without a doubt, the vocals are the defining feature of the album. There’s some groovy beats and fun electronica, but Raja raps like he’s painstakingly articulating something to an encouraging dentist (in a good way). The lyrics have a nerdy vibe to them when they’re over-pronounced, which makes for some interesting dynamics. You’ll hear every single word coming from the mouth of Raja, who has a very Sacramento voice reminiscent of Cake’s John McCrea.
No matter the genre, it’s nice to just be able to hear everything that a songwriter has to say. Many vocalists opt for breathy, inaudible wordplay, but Raja has no such compulsions. His songs aren’t looking for anywhere to hide. By the end of the record, you get the message that he’s trying to get across, loud and clear.
The content of the album is often autobiographical. Most of the tracks make reference to Raja’s journey toward success, how hard he’s working and what goes on behind the mic. Self-exploration is a necessary part of the process, according to Raja.
“When you write creatively, you don’t have much structure,” he says. “You just pour out what you’re going through.”
In the album’s third track, “Supersonic Waves,” he puts a lot of his experiences on the line, describing his difficulty fitting in and his burgeoning self-confidence. The music Raja makes also has a tough time fitting in. It’s hard to place the music into just one genre, a fact that he embraces.
There are rap influences from Russ, Big Sean and Oddisee, but genre-transcenders like Pharrell Williams and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda give Raja the blueprint and the confidence to mix things up. Recently, he’s been listening to a lot of country music, namely Kane Brown and Sam Hunt, and it’s starting to seep into his music. For an artist already describing his music as an amalgam of rap, rock, funk and electronica, you’d think there’s enough genres going on.
Raja’s not so sure. When he’s in the recording studio, he is actively pursuing one thing: uniqueness. He doesn’t want to sound like anyone else. Throwing some country twang into the mix certainly can’t hurt him on that front.
Musically, the arc of the album is a bit homogenous. Because the instrumentation often comes second to Raja’s voice, you get a lot of similar-sounding tracks. With another album, Charger, coming out in a couple weeks, we’ll get to see very quickly what different sounds Raja is making. According to him, the next album will be much more influenced by electronica.
Overall, Loud & Clear is well-produced, clean and enjoyable. Raja, who listens to his work obsessively to see how he could have done it better, is happy with the project. He did exactly what he set out to do. It’s a record that exudes a lot of confidence, rightfully so, because it leaves me wanting to hear more and to see where Raja takes his style next.