Album Reviews: KSI – All Over the Place and Willow – Lately I’m Feeling Everything

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KSIAll over

★★★☆☆

There are a handful of reasons why you may have come across KSI. Longtime fans will remember him as a 15-year-old who uploaded videos of himself playing Fifa to YouTube, where he has since amassed over 30 million subscribers. Or it could be thanks to his highly publicized boxing match against YouTuber rival Logan Paul in 2019. You are less likely to know KSI as a rapper.

That being said, the Hertfordshire-born artist – real name Olajide Olatunji – has been eroding the musical side of things for quite some time now. The most promising of these efforts came last year with his solo album Concealment, a surprisingly good start from someone carrying the omen of “Youtuber turned rapper”. KSI’s second record All over It’s more of the same thing, in the sense that it’s also a bumper-to-bumper mix of genres backed by some of the biggest music leagues.

There are some highlights on the album, for sure. Like with Concealment, KSI does well to allow its people to come in and do what they do best in their respective styles. “Silly” is a confident, swaggering grime track starring Bugzy Malone. Anne Marie injects lightness and a singing hook into “Don’t Play With Me”. And it’s very easy to see Craig David’s nostalgic dance track “Really Love” playing on repeat this summer.

Sometimes, however, All over stirs in the absence of a distinct singular voice. Portions of the album seem anonymous – a pasty fusion that vaguely resembles all the trap-pops on the charts right now. Still, it’s significant that KSI – a relative newcomer who’s managed to turn billions of video views into millions of Spotify streams – stands out among its many, many contributors. KSI sounds like a musician. He might be able to remove that “YouTuber” prefix from his name after all.

Willow – Lately I feel EVERYTHING

★★★★ ☆

In 2014, Willow Smith and her brother Jaden gave a mind-blowing interview in which they discussed everything from theoretical physics to “prana energy”. She is also clearly in the idea of ​​reincarnation. On his new playful album, Lately I feel EVERYTHING, she killed off her psychedelic soul character from 2019 and returned as an emo-pop star.

At first, it may seem like Smith is jumping on a trend led by teenage stars Olivia Rodrigo and Meet Me at the Altar. But her love for the genre runs deep – in school she was bullied for listening to Paramore and My Chemical Romance. “Gaslight” is a breathtaking ride that unleashes frustration on a potential romantic partner for sending mixed signals. “Grow” is made up of shattering symbols (an emo-punk staple) and thrash guitars – there’s even an appearance from the pop-punk queen herself, Avril Lavigne. Other influences creep in: Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better” lingers in the background of the sensual “Don’t Save Me”, while “Breakout” is pure White Stripes, filled with guitar hooks and imitation of Smith’s Jack White.

Critics have complained that Smith’s previous albums don’t reveal much more than what we already know about the daughter of Hollywood superstars Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith. While I think female artists are often penalized for trying to maintain an artistic level of mystique (Prince and Bowie didn’t have that problem), Smith’s new record seems to be his more personal. Her lyrics have a stream of consciousness style, as if she were composing a message to a friend or partner. The pleasure she takes in performing these songs is palpable. I hope this incarnation of Smith will stick around a bit longer.


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