Humility is a stone far too rarely overturned in Rap. There’s probably a reason for that, as there was little place for it during a time when an emcee’s livelihood depended on spitting harder than the next guy. But in a time when so-called “swagger” has rappers essentially making careers out of hedonism, it’s refreshing to hear an artist that doesn’t mind whipping up some humble pie.
In comes Supastition. Now rapping under his given name, Kam Moye, the North Carolina presents his newest effort, Splitting Image, as a socially-conscious everyman who juggles worrying about how he’ll pay his rent, worrying about how to treat his girl right, and worrying about how the media portrays minorities. While that may seem like a wide range of topics, it’s really just a sampler of what Kam has in store.
After a somewhat slow start, Splitting Image hits on its third track, “Stars.” Here, Kam is joined by John Robinson [click to read] over a simple piano loop and bass line by D.R. in an outstanding tribute to the grind. No farce about having three mansions and 20 Lambos. As Kam succinctly puts it, “I’d rather suffer doing something I love / Than to be a rich man in a place I despise.” The title track is another gem, as Moye waxes about self-determination and counting his blessings, though it suffers from a barely understandable hook. “Imani” comes in out of left field, but not in a bad way, as Kam puts on his storytelling cap, yielding impressive results.
“Hello Karma” is both serious and hilarious at the same time, as one can imagine, given Phonte [click to read] joins in on the track. Sadly, the hook is horrendous, once again having a deleterious effect on the song. On “Nobody’s Fool,” Kam unleashes righteous fury, emphatically asserting that he won’t let worldly distraction pull the wool over his eyes. “I speak soft but I carry a big stick / For me to be soft ain’t a characteristic / You’re adamant with thinking that that’ll get dismissed / ‘Cause then it’s evident to me that you haven’t been listenin’ /…The way you seldom hear, I don’t want a cell to live / I got relatives doing Mandela years / So all that back and forth bickering I ignore / I have never seen a record deal that’s worth dying for / Probably get you trapped like deer under a lion’s paw /…If I could pay my bills, fuck I wanna be a star for? / Before, I used to be a sneakerhead hardcore / till I seen children barely eatin’ out in Darfur.” Here, Kam is at his best, balancing social concerns, label politics and personal revelations, all in one verse (smoothly, no less).
Splitting Image is full of thought-provoking material, but that isn’t to say that the album is without its flaws. For one, Kam rarely switches the flow up, which can get tiring – even on an album that clocks in at under an hour. Lyricism is always appreciated, but delivery is just as important. The production is somewhat to blame here – for while it is varied and sometimes even rich, it all plods along at an all-too-similar pace, and thereby practically forces Kam’s flow to remain stationary. Remaining on topic, sometimes the production serves only as distraction, as is the case on “MK-Ultra.” The video game-like organs are laughable, and ruin good verses by Kam and Baba Zumbi of Zion I [click to read].
“Leave your expectations at the door,” declares Kam near the outset of the album. It’s good advice, as those picking up the album may expect high-concept nonsensical drivel stereotypical of independent Hip Hop. But in all honesty, Splitting Image really is just an account of an average guy with everyday issues. But for all his average concerns, Kam Moye is not an average artist – and anyone who adds Splitting Image to their collection will be able to attest to that.