Magnum K.I. Magnum K.I.

Magnum K.I. Magnum K.I.
Winnipeg rapper Ismaila Alfa and Thunder Bay producer DJ Kutdown have been working together for over a decade, ever since Kutdown joined pioneering Manitoba rap group Frek Sho as the unit's primary producer and DJ. This self-titled album might only be the second release for Magnum K.I., but their long history is revealed in the easy transitioning through styles and sounds, including jazz, reggae, '80s synth pop and rap. If nothing else, Kutdown proves his versatility with beats that would make Grand Analog jealous. Vocally, Ismaila shows a great deal of range, jumping from rapping to toasting to singing, but he receives support this time from newest member Rob Crooks, a singer-songwriter who assisted on Magnum K.I.'s debut, the Gun Shy EP. The group also get an assist from Peanuts & Corn rap vet John Smith, who drops a hardcore history lesson to close off Ismaila's half-sung/half-rapped back-in-the-day cut "Ol Skool," while Suss adds some much needed femininity with her background vocals on "Sleep," a beautiful merging of an '80s-inspired beat with reggae raps. It's not the only '80s-inspired song, with "Phoenix" borrowing from Billy Idol's "White Wedding" and "Some Day" being full-on Depeche Mode. Still, "Eyes on Fire" is an exciting album opener, with a powerful sax sample, an up-tempo beat and a flurry of raps, and tracks like "Rhythm Addict," also on a similar vibe, and "No Way," featuring hyperactive turntable manipulation by Kutdown, keep things grooving and moving. While their debut full-length is a good listen, Magnum K.I., unlike Frek Sho, is still a mutt of a musical concoction that probably won't appeal to hip-hop purists. (Foultone)