Zae Kichen

Finally….GenY stand up for your man Zae Kinchen…It’s taken far too long but I’m finally putting words on paper (digitally of course) to Zae’s new album Teen Spirit. I sat down with Zae earlier this week at the PartTrap event at The Camel to talk about the new record and I’m glad I spoke to him in person before posting this review because he gave me some insight into the concept of the album that I think (scratch that – I know) I would have missed if I just listened to the tracks with no background.

Teen Spirit is a reflection of the GenY lifestyle, easily seen on the new In many ways if you try to read too much into it the album…you will miss the concept, while at the same time if you don’t see the entire vision then again you miss the concept as well. Sounds complicated but the funny thing is that it’s not complicated to Zae or GenY because it’s daily life for them.

GenY is a collection of creatives, too many to name, and their lifestyle is all about creating. It’s doesn’t matter if it’s music, movies, photos, or design, creating all day is their goal. Teen Spirit uses audio clips of the coming of age film The Wackness.  And while the movie is a period piece, set in the early 90’s, the story of a young man transitioning and discovering the meaning of realty is defiantly a theme of the album.

The sound of the album catches the wave of what’s current amongst the new generation, A$AP, PartyNextDoor, Makonnen, the more trippy side of Drake, and I think Teen Spirit captures that essence well with a distinctive RVA feel. My favorite song on the album is “relax’npace” featuring Cadillac Cat. I love it because it’s smooth therapy — almost like hypnosis, if you catch the wave right…you can lose yourself in the track. To be honest, the groove is so strong…I don’t even know what they are saying half the record, it’s just a solid groove that captures the GenY feel.

I also really like “tripsbytheriver” produced by Jordeaux. Zae shows that he can spit hip hop bars on this track. He takes a mellow groove but he gets busy on the rhyme. It shows a level of versatility that will need to continue as he grows as an MC.

“rva #GenY” is the final track I will highlight for the review. I got caught up in the zone on this groove. It’s RVA centric – ride out music. It’s a definitely  a throw back to the old southern tracks that once came out of Texas and Louisiana heavy.  I’m not sure if Zae was intentionally paying homage to those records but the result is the same, a second half chopped and screwed feel.

This record is hard for me to score on the RVA Hip Hop Scoreboard because it’s truly not my lane. It is truly it’s own zone. It’s made by and for GenY.  I’m much more in tune to score the soundtrack of The Wackness which features the likes of Wu-Tang, Nas,  and Tribe Called Quest, than I am this type of record. It’s just it’s own groove, hard to compare to anything. There are songs that I really like, the three above, and a few more…don’t sleep on “underthesun” as another solid track.

So what didn’t I like about Teen Spirit? Again, not much at all. It’s worth a listen for yourself. I will say it’s a mood record, if you’re in the mood, you will love it. If you’re in that zone where you want to chill and ride out, Zae takes you on that trip. On the flip side is…that’s special mood to be in. I’m normally not in that mood therefore I may play Teen Spirit once in three or four months. It would not be in my daily rotation.

The record is consistent, which is a good thing, but there  is no one song that stands out to me as a universal play over and over again. I like “relaxn’pace” but by no means is that a universal choice. That is a blessing and a curse, while you don’t need a lead single to make an album (see J. Cole) it’s clearly the exception, not the rule, to elevate your music.  Lastly, I will say that Zae is a dope young rapper. He can really rhyme – and I score bars high – he mostly stays in pocket on Teen Spirit; too much for me. I think he stayed in pocket with his rhymes because it seemed to  fit the production of the record and I get that…but he can go bigger, I’ve seen him rhyme off top and so I think he has more in the bag for  us all 2015.

I scored Teen Spirit 3 mics. And I will tell you this…listen to the record for yourself. This record is to be judged by the listener, in the spirit that they’re in. You may be in a place where this record hits your spirit as a 5 mic classic. I think it all depends on the mood you’re in. S/O to GenY…keep creating every day. #WESEEIT

To Submit Music:

The Cheats Movement Scoring Scale:

5 mics = classic,

4.5 is a crazy album.

3 mics is average.

2 mics needs work.

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