Welcome to weekly series The Singles Life, where known experts Katie Parker and Hussein Moses peruse, ponder and pontificate on the latest and (maybe) greatest in New Zealand music
With a co-sign from David Dallas and a promising debut single, Abdul Kay is a name you need to know. So who is this silver-tongued newcomer? Katie and Hussein take a listen.
Who is Abdul Kay?
Hussein: Abdul Kay. Don't forget that name. The 20-year-old might be a newcomer to the New Zealand hip-hop scene, but the ability he's already shown behind the mic has set him up for big expectations. Even before he had released his first proper single (more on that in a second), he was making noise with his 64 Bars video, a standout from the great series helmed by David Dallas.
If you came across the clip before, you will be well familiar. If not, I suggest you take a moment now to repent:
His debut single is called 'Right Now' and it's....
But seriously: everything about this video is rad. It's so clear and crisp and Kay has an incredible presence. Very impressed as well by the fact that they managed to make Auckland look actually cool. 'Right Now' is a classic ‘look at me, I’m great' hype anthem, and it's a great first track. But it also feels more complex than that: with lines like “smoke in your lungs not closing the hole in your heart” there's definitely something deeper going on which makes me excited for what else he's got up his sleeve.
It’s a bold arrival for a newcomer but that, it seems, is deliberate.
"This new song is probably one of the more confident and ambitious songs on the [upcoming] project.” He told Leilani Momoseia on Rally. “You might hear it, and then you'll go 'damn, that guy makes me want to be ambitious.' It's just saying, OK, it's time. We've played around for too long. Let's get it."
And hey, with the track already having hit the Spotify Viral charts it's paying off.
He’s “a rapper’s rapper,” according to David Dallas
Hussein: When you're going at it alone, it always helps to have a co-sign. And who better than the guy that made a name for himself all off of one perfect verse of his own? As the story goes, Kay tweeted out a video of his raps to David Dallas who was impressed with what he saw. He asked Kay to jump in on 64 Bars and the clip from it now has over 150,000 views.
Dallas says Kay is “a rapper’s rapper”, who reminds him a little of himself. “I can tell that he really studies rap,” he told Red Bull in the video below. “He's not so concerned with the other stuff.”
But it’s not just about bars
Katie: What the 64 Bars video established, if nothing else, is that Abdul Kay has insane technical skills combined with the kind of calm confidence only a 20-year-old can possess. Jeez, I can barely even talk for 30 seconds without losing my train of thought.
But even a “rapper’s rapper” knows that pure skill isn’t everything, with Kay telling Red Bull Studios that he’s working on his performance skills as much as he is his technique: “I’m also very aware that you gotta be able to connect with people as opposed to just having bars”.
Expect something different from his debut EP
Hussein: 'Right Now' makes for a very promising start, so what's next? Word is that his debut EP is already finished, but as of yet there's no release date for it. What we know so far is that we should probably expect something slightly different when the time does come.
“When I started the process of making the EP, the shit that was coming the easiest was very down-buzz, introspective songs,” he told Rally. “There was no kind of single. As soon as I wrote the first line [to ‘Right On’] I was like, OK, I think this is the one that's gonna be the explosive one. So I just tried to put everything into that.”
Where you can see him for yourself
Hussein: Kay scored himself an upcoming slot at New Year’s festival Northern Bass, where he’ll perform alongside Raiza Biza and Jess B, two other local rap talents who also deserve your time. On top of that, you can see him later this month when he plays an all-ages show with Openside (more of this please) at The Tuning Fork in Auckland. Now we’ve got that out of the way...
He’s a bloody legend on Twitter
Katie: A 20-year-old with more talent in his little finger than I’ll have in my lifetime AND a Doctor Pimple Popper fan?
Dr pimple popper just cuts people up while theyre awake and they dont even flinch???— Abdul Kay (@abdulxkay) October 8, 2017