1988 - An Album About Time and Reflection
“Don’t be afraid. Because tomorrows not promised. Do you. That’s all we can do. Listen; learn how to cope with reality. You only get one, so live life. Be safe. Watch who you call your homie. They come and go. Don’t gotta be gangsta all the time. Believe me; it can be so nice. Make use of the time. Make it live forever. A woman’s life is love. A man’s love is life. Keep on minding my business.”
You’re probably wondering what all that is about, right? Well, read in sequence, the song titles from Knxwledge’s 1988 read out what seems like a mission statement of some sort. 1988 isn’t just like any album. It’s one that is fixated on a theme of time and reflection. The title ‘1988’ itself is a core example of this. Knxwledge names the album after his birth year bringing attention to the importance intimacy in his music has with time.
We are graced with Knxwledge’s signature style of smooth and soulful instrumentals in opening tracks “dont be afraid,” “[bc] tm_s not promised,” “do you”. These three tracks lush instrumental work following on from Kendrick Lamar’s “Momma” with some dusty drums and vocal samples for which he’s become famous for. The tracks piece together providing bittersweet reminders to accept the present in pursuit of good vibes.
On the next track “thats allwekando.”, lasting for 57 secs, Knxwledge samples “Ideally Yours by Ideal” from their 1999 album Ideal. The track then transitions smoothly into “Listen”; a more soulful and funkier track which incorporates a sample from “Miki Howards – Love Under New Management” taking us back to 1989 and 1-year old Knxwledge. The track begins with a chopped and screwed skit of a man saying “We gon do it like this for the next hour. All gospel, it’s a Sunday. Y’all don’t go to church so we gon take you to church. So here we go”. We then hear a lady say “Can I talk to you for a minute?” which sounds oddly like Brandy from the beginning of “The Boy Is Mine” track released in 1998.
We experience another beautiful transition into the next tracks “Learn/ Howtokope”; a duo full of a tongue-in-cheek Ebro Darden interlude and echoing choir sample loops. The running themes in these two tracks appear to be cantered around the emotional growth that comes with age mirroring Knx’s growth as an artist.
“with[reality]/ uonlygetone” feature a skit of Max B as he reminds us, he is “the Sensei…the Tsunami over there. The big boy.” combined with a beautiful low and hi-fidelity sounds that has you head-nodding to bliss. It’s not a Knx track without some disembodied pitched voices, chopped and distorted sounds and piano chords as we hear in “solivelife” and “theykome&go”.
It seems like no one loves Meek Mill more that Knx does. We get to see this through the five MeekVols released by Knx from 2017 to 2020. These are usually a re-adapted track of young Meek Mill rapping so it only felt right to include one of these renditions on 1988. These and many reasons are why we believe Knx is ingenious. The ability to recreate a whole different story/mood to an original track isn’t an easy task but he does it effortlessly in this particular track. “don_tgottabe” introduces vocal loops and bent around shuffling drum pattern and a beautiful sample from “Dan Gautreau. - Chill Acoustic.”
A greater sense of ambition and adventure drives a handful of 1988’s standout songs. For instance, “awomanslifeislove” and “amansloveislife_keepon” showcases great samples and jack-knifing drums and blinking synths of steady percussion of which scan as funk than hip-hop. “don’t be afraid” samples the amazing “Kut Klose - Surrender” which was released in 1995. One of our personal standouts is “itkanbe[sonice]” featuring Anderson .Paak, NxWorries.
Did you know that .Paak and Knxwledge could make an album about photosynthesis and it would still be the greatest of all times. It a collaboration made in heaven. “makeitliveforever” is another favourite of mine because of my love for the song “Tyrone Davis – Ain’t Nothing I Can Do” which is sampled in the track tremendously.
It’s clear to say 1988 is ultimately standard Knx. While he’s clearly a student of J Dilla and Madlib, Knx distinguishes himself as a prolific and ingenious sculptor of all sounds. 1998 is warm, nostalgic and encourages intimacy and reflection. 1988 celebrates Knx’s origins and fixations and we are very much here for it.
Written by @la_xre.