"Death Is Silent" by Kno

Kno
Death Is Silent

APOS Music
2010

Review

I loved Neil Gaiman's "Death The High Cost Of Living" so it was a treat to see a doppleganger of that character on an album cover. If you haven't guessed by the title and by the cover image, this album is all about death. As such, it is reasonable to assume that this album would be a somber affair and in spots this is the case. But overall I found this to be an excellent somewhat downtempo Hip-Hop concept album with great lyrics and amazing production that gets more mileage out of its concept than you might expect.

I thought of Aceyalone's "A Book Of Human Language" a lot while listening to this album. I would say that this has the same tone as Acey's classic album (peep the opener "Death Is Silent" and tell me it ain't true). Kno's flow is very similar to that of Evidence's (from Dialated Peoples). Kno is part of the Cunninglinguists but perhaps he is better known for his mind-blowing remix of Jay-Z's black album. As a producer this puts him in good company as Danger Mouse also had a great remix of Jay-Z's album (ironically I found both of these remixes far superior to the one that Jay actually released - but I digress).

Kno's amazing production can be heard all over this album and fits the album's theme incredibly. Take a moment to listen to "Loneliness" to see what I mean. Hot damn is that one ill bass-heavy beat. I was in serious head-nod mode on this one.

Ok, so dude can construct some ill beats but can he rap? In a word: yes. The theme might be "death" but isn't just about the type of dying that ends a life. It's also about the kind of death that creates a life as demonstrated by "Le Petite Mort" (which means "Little Death" in French and is a euphemism for orgasm).

As I guide the little man in the boat across the Styxx river

The sex metaphors continue on "Graveyard" with a beat that made me think of The Beatnuts(!). The metaphor on this one is...well, it's dirty. It's about, um, where your "boys" who don't get to become people end up. There are more than a couple incidences of hashtag rap on here, but they are pretty funny so I can't be too mad.

"I Wish I Was Dead" probably best illustrates both sides of Kno's considerable talent (although man, "They Told Me" is also pretty dope...). Production-wise, It could be an electronic song save for the rapping. Kno shows amazing breath control on this one:

Seems I'm captive in a carnival
The main attraction people stand in line for hours stoked
They pay to laugh and see me sabotage my charted goal
To escape this trap I'll read the transcripts of my horoscopes
Then it fades to black
Repeat the pattern until my heart of gold
Is stained and cracked and decreased in value if pawned it though
Would I make it back?
It seems the madness is so hard to hold
So I face the facts and leave the planet how I found it - alone

The only negatives I can come up with is that "Death Is Silent", "Le Petite Mort", and "Rhythm Of The Rain" are a bit too dour to be enthralling. I can appreciate the skill and artistry of the construction of these songs from samples in the deepest recesses of the milk-crate archives...but I just wish there was more of a hook to hold on to on those. But the rest? Well, but it this way, you aren't going to be dancing to this. This isn't BBQ 'ing and good times music. Rather, it's an excellently produced and lyrically impressive album about death. Given the subject matter, you can't expect this to be Fun D.M.C. now can you?

4.250 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Death Is Silent (02:55) 3
2. If You Cry (feat. Natti) (03:26) 4
3. Loneliness (feat. Nemo Achida & Deacon the Villain) (03:19) 5
4. La petite mort (Come Die With Me) (03:31) 3
5. Rhythm of the Rain (feat. Thee Tom Hardy & Tunji) (04:33) 3
6. Spread Your Wings (feat. Deacon the Villain) (03:13) 4
7. Smile (They Brought Your Coffin In) (01:52)
8. Graveyard (feat. Sheisty Khrist) (02:52) 5
9. I Wish I Was Dead (feat. Tonedeff) (04:54) 5
10. They Told Me (feat. Deacon the Villain) (03:59) 5
11. When I Was Young (feat. Natti & Substantial) (03:32) 4
12. Not at the End (feat. Tunji) (03:36) 5
13. The New Day (Death Has No Meaning) (03:07) 5