Ka - The Night's Gambit

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"The Night's Gambit" plays like a mid '90s Spike Lee movie. At times "Crooklyn," other times "Clockers," but both supremely showcase Ka's vision.

Like his friend and collaborator Roc Marciano, Ka has thrived outside of the group setting. A former background member of Natural Elements, the Brownsville, Brooklyn emcee found a career renaissance since 2011, without reliance on features, but rather, creating a one-man, self-produced show that presents street life uniquely. The Night’s Gambit is the third LP in as many years from Ka, built for those who love an active listen with wisdom-drenched bars that guide an urban safari.

While Ka’s contemporaries Styles P and Prodigy are fledgling novelists, the Brownville emcee is literary with his themes of The Night’s Gambit—especially with setting. “Knighthood” is built around a street-corner character in pursuit of making a living as the sky moves by and the streetlights change every 20 seconds. “Jungle” raises the stakes, alluding to Biblical figures with strong contrast to the code of the streets. Rather than weld violence or brag about doing dirt, the song urges listeners to take heed to what’s offered, for sheer survival in a crossroads of predators. The Night’s Gambit is strong with these motifs: spirituality, survival, and a lot of imagery surrounding timeless elements of the overlooked ghettoes of America. Through characters and personal testimony, Ka is the old head that can connect with the youth, and the good guy that the villains don’t test. On album-standout “Barring The Likeness,” he discusses one of life’s most beautiful moments amidst grim surroundings, rhyming, “Lost my innocence / On a porch of tenements / Dingy / Stingy / My thoughts was generous / The pen is rich...” It’s an interesting character archetype that differentiates him from even his closest of peers, and makes Ka’s brand of Hip Hop so authentic

Aside from the single “Off The Record,” it’s rare to hear a 20-year vet avoid talking about the genre and industry. Because he’s not quick to call out Rap peers or criticize the state of the art, Ka comes off as wisdom in the form of a rapper. He’s just as much influenced by Gil Scott-Heron as he is Smoothe Da Hustler. Moreover, the music that Ka provides is simple, sparse and connects his present-day images with the 1970s and 1980s New York streets that so many emcees try to identify with. Dusty Rock loops, simple drum arrangements and obscure sampling make this the ultimate 2013 for the night drive. The Night’s Gambit is a dim-light street symphony.

In a year where artists are making grandiose social commentary, moving from the studio to the gallery, and fusing with sounds in the Electronic genre, Brownsville Ka reminds us that not every subject and lesson from the streets has been unearthed. The Night’s Gambit plays like a mid-‘90s Spike Lee movie. At times Crooklyn, other times Clockers, Ka is the ultimate comeback story, and it’s little surprise that with a narrative as original as his, few can share the mic, let alone the vision.


  • metalclergy13

    The Night's Gambit was the best album of 2013 along with Roc Marciano's recent release Marci Beaucoup. Much like Marciano, Ka is one of the best rappers in the game right now. His emceeing skills are on full display throughout the 11 tracks and his style seems to go over a lot of peoples heads because of his hushed and subtle delivery, but that doesn't take away from how talented this man is. Ka also producers every song on this album. Ka's production on this LP is very minimal and sparse while maintaining a dark and eerie feel throughout,the beats on The Night's Gambit are very artsy and a serious step up from Grief Pedigree. The flow, lyrics and delivery of Ka are a perfect match for the almost ambient beats that he concocts. There is no other emcee out there who paints a picture as vivid of their hometown as Ka does with Brownsville. It's an extremely impressive feat and helps elevate this album to classic status.

  • shoguner

    Ka is one of the most creative emcees you'll ever come across. The Night's Gambit is the best hip hop album of 2013 and is finally getting Ka a bit more recognition than he had been getting previously. Instant classic. Metal Clergy's (Roc Marciano & Ka) album will shit on everything else that comes out next year. Piece Be With You!

  • Magic-X

    I keep it 10000 on u niggas

  • Jacob

    Ka is a super duper dope slept on MC (some others who read this include ELZHI, DIABOLIC, TONEDEFF, JUICE, PERCEE-P, APATHY, COPYWRITE, BLU, RA THE RUGGED MAN, REKS, BENEFIT, CELPH TITLED, FASHAWN, BROTHER ALI, SLUG, LOUIS LOGIC, ONE BE LO) and this album along with 2011's Grief Pedigree are in my top 10 albums released this decade. You can tell he takes his time with his pen. Patiently waiting for the new Elzhi and Diabolic to drop

  • ApeLincoln

    This album is fuckin dope! Peace Ahki and Jungle are my joints.

  • prokeezy

    One of the best in '13

  • tn

    The thing that is so impressive about Ka himself is his ability to craft the perfect soundscape for his dense lyricism. He is therefore a true hip hop artist rather than a rapper. Even down to the videos. He reminds me of rakim in terms of lyricism. Very impressive. Needs to keep on working his momentum is increasing. Hope he doesn't change his style too much as he may just lose his niche and sound like everyone else.

  • sonny rene

    This album is getting Ka a lot of attention, still not as much as he deserves. Nevertheless it's good to see his finally getting some credibility for his abilities as both an emcee and producer.

  • jjdavinci

    Can't wait for the Killah Priest and K.A. album! Beautiful Minds II!! Gon' be day fiyah

  • ka

    album of the year along with rugged man

  • Fahiem Muhammad Suri

    KA.Brownsville. The Night's Gambit. Album of the year so far. No Kanye. No Jay Z. No Mac Miller. No J Cole. NO LIL WAYNE. KA all day.


    Would have been a classic album in 1996. But it's 2013. There are a couple of cool joints on here but the album is kind of outdated.

  • Causa1ity

    No disrespect to everyone who's loving it, but though I really like this dude's flow, the beats on this album were just completely flat. Just very simple, repetitive, and borderline annoying.

    • Pegasus Flow

      "the dumb are mostly intrigued by the drum..."

    • BoneStarr

      This isn't an album that you necessarily bump when you're in your car or listen to because of the beats, its for a different kind of mood, It's for when you want to zone out and hear something real, the guy is a poet, the lyrics are incredible. This album makes some rappers look stupid and empty in what they do. 5 stars from me

    • Hachitori

      Cosign MrRicoSlick.

    • MrRicoSlick

      When your 30 something you'll understand the nuances in his "simple" beats, and how well they complement his delivery and flow.There more layered than you think.They allow the lyrics to take the forefront and the listener to ingest them one word at a time, it's calculated brilliance not monotony.

  • Anonymous

    Album is fire. 4.5/5

  • Anonymous

    pretty good, i fucks with it

  • Anonymous

    > RICK ROSS is the Best Lyricist in the game >

  • Prokeezy

    Dope as hell. One of the best in 2013.

  • pie

    Good album, great lyrics. Dope !

  • BossStatusGS

    4.5/5 This Album is Spectacular grittiness>>>> exceptional Lyrics, flow(s),concept,passion!! He's an Mc whos fully committed to the essential elements of his craft... This and Killah Priest's Album are I think the 2 best Hip-Hop Albums Of The Year!! Now HHDX, Why the $u*k did you never review that Killah Priest?! (Mad, sad, puffy meme face thingy lol) Oh and btw tech N9ne's "Something Else" is on the same level, the whole project is Bangin!!!

  • kas

    PURE hiphop fans need to pick this up. Sick lyricism over dark beats.

  • sonny rene

    The Night's Gambit is the best hip hop album of 2013. As far as I'm concerned Ka is the most underrated emcee in all of hip hop. The beats on this album are more layered than his previous works and for the most part very eerie, all intended to put Ka's lyrics at the forefront. You have to listen very intently to try and catch all the lyrical gems that Ka is dropping. I highly recommend this album for fans of REAL hip hop. "Not a verse, but a work of art"

  • str8 up

    Dude below is dumb glib. This is a great album

  • Anonymous

    this album is fucking dope!

  • bv

    Brilliant album, his lyrics are incredible

  • abu_maryam

    This is going to be one of the albums of the year. Ka is a true MC in a way that very few rappers are. His devotion and respect for the art form is almost religious/spiritual in nature.

  • MrRicoSlick

    Am not one to rant endlessly about ratings and what not, but given the plaudits in the review, I presume the reviewer was a bit stingy with regards to rating this album, surely a 4.5 stars at least would suffice to justify all the praise that has been heaped on this album in the review, or is their an unknown threshold an artist should meet to satisfy the reviewer he deserves such a rating.There seems to be a glass ceiling of 4 stars that few if any noteworthy albums can break.

    • Iliyan

      Aaaand I couldn't say it better.

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