Today you probably listened to a love song on the radio or on your smartphone. It was formulaic, conventional, average at best. You probably bopped your head or tweeted out a few ambivalent song lyrics about a crush. Then, you heard another “love song” that put you in a different place. It invaded your ears and commandeered that space between your head. The rhythm grabbed you, the bridge tricked you, the melody woke you. It was decidedly different. Kes is that artist who grabbed you. The Compton native provides a genre bending musical experience. He pairs elements of RnB, rock, and rave with unhinged lyrics for an adventurous sound. Kes showcases his eclectic brand of music on his EP Audio Justice. The five track project provides listeners with a perfect cross section to explore the talented singer’s head.
A Heaven sent choir fills the opening song entitled “Redemption”. Drums and synths are then brought in as Kes begins his story. The renegade makes his statement singing, “F*ck my redemption. I just wanna keep myself honest.” He unfolds; pleading to not be judged or criticized. This is Kes, in the here and now, unabashedly raw. “So don’t go throwing stones here in this glass house. ‘Cause if it comes crashing down it’ll kill both of us,” pleads Kes during the chorus. Audiences hear the complete vulnerability in his voice. It is a great start to the EP.
Kes trades in the even keeled rhythm for the uptempo club track “Horses”. Listeners are brought on a sexy night cap as Kes pursues a mysterious woman waiting for a “ride”. The song unfolds into a raunchy 80’s RnB jam. Kes’ dark horse candidate has a thing for finely tuned cars and dominating in sex. The singer plays on the double entendre; getting kinkier as the song continues. “Horses” has a certain kinetic bounce to it that’s reminiscent of Miami Vice. You could see Don Johnson picking up a Dolphins cheerleader with this blaring in his Testarosa. Elsewhere, Kes revs up his passion on the power ballad “Gimme Your Love”. The song is filled with quirky electronica twinges. Kes shows his vocal range as he layers and manipulates his vocals. It’s an enthralling song that returns energy to listeners during each chorus and bridge.
“Carry On” is Kes’ most endearing offer. The singer pleads to a “silly little Compton girl” to carry on. It’s a rousing personal narrative. Kes tries to save a city girl who almost gets swept up in the ills of inner city business. He sings, “So might as well carry on. ‘Cause the light comes after dark. Carry on!” Kes strips the layered track for an acoustic guitar assisted bridge. The drums and auto-tune return for the rest of the song as Kes calls on his Compton girl to change the world. It’s an ode to the human spirit. Kes’ voice illuminates the world for his wayward muse and offers a channel to make a difference. Viewers are transported to a Middle Eastern oasis by the close of “Carry On” for the thrilling “Arabian Peninsula”. Kes plays with a lusty assortment of 808 drums and sitar samples as he woos an exotic Arabian princess. He does his best job in the role of gigolo as his love interest treats him to all the finer things in life in exchange for love. The track is playful; never digging too deep. Its a fun way to end the EP as Kes keeps it light on a fling.
Audio Justice is a great start for an artist who has loads of potential. Kes’ songs show his strengths as a musical chameleon. His style is a throwback to the 80’s as well as a corollary to today’s evolving RnB sound. Kes can progress if he explores deeper relationships and problems through music in future projects. Audiences reveled in the sexy one night stands. However, Kes is very capable of more serious subject matter. Further exploration of his ambitious Compton girl or the beautiful equestrian who hitchhiked into his heart will fill out songs. The sky is the limit for Kes. An eclectic style like his only sets him apart from the pack. Kes’ challenge will be to develop his storytelling while also preserving his unique soundscape.