King Solomon has just released his first album, entitled “Illuminate the Dark” on the 16th of January. It is primarily a concept rap album that focuses on inspiration and an insight into the artist’s faith, however King Solomon does not consider himself a gospel rapper. The rapper lives in the UK but is an American born and raised, descended from Nigeria. Based on technicality and production values alone, “Illuminate the Dark” stands as an expertly crafted hip hop album, and arguably one the best I’ve heard in the genre for the last 3 years. Of course, due to its Christian message, most people would want to pass it by, due to personal gripes with music about faith. And that’s a pity, because not since Kendrick Lamar’s epic “To Pimp A Butterfly”, have I been so enchanted by a hip-hop album. From the moment the soulful and melodic titular track, “Illuminate the Dark” (feat. Jay Singh) opens the proceedings, you’re sucked into a vortex of emotions that’s hard to control.
“Illuminate the Dark” is an excellent, cohesive, relevant, and thought-provoking album. From start to finish, this recording is packed with messages, meaning and melodies that understand and speak to the soul. King Solomon is vulnerable and honest with the issues that plague him, and hence our culture in general.
His creative genius, catchy beats, and dedication to understanding his faith make him a true hip hop anomaly. And by the time you’ve finished playing through the heart-wrenching introspective verses of “Altar Call”, King Solomon would have convicted and inspired you beyond your expectations!
With all songs performed in the first person, each narrative tackles a specific moment, event or mind-set King Solomon has experienced in his ongoing plight to come to terms with the joys and sorrows encountered in his daily journey.
One of the most accessible and catchiest songs on the album has to be “Yahweh” (feat. Truthz & Moyege), with its stunning Rihanna-type vocal hook, and King Solomon’s spontaneously sounding, free flowing lyrical scheme. Get this clear, King Solomon isn’t just the average rapper spitting out Jesus’ name in every bar, this guy can actually rap and he isn’t trying to be being preachy about anything at all.
King Solomon isn’t one of those Christian rappers expected to be annoying and overly holy. For a person like me who has always liked intelligent hip-hop, and not the self-hyping junk that is popular, this is an extremely worthy album indeed. In essentially every song I heard the exact same level of quality, lyricism, and intentionality as any other A-league hip hop artist today.
The same rules apply to the production. Very few artist’s blend outstanding production with meaningful lyrical content. And King Solomon pulls this off with grace. This is a powerful project that the whole family will enjoy. There are so many great songs here that it becomes wholly impossible to choose any single standouts.
Depending on your personal tastes, you may succumb to the melodies and harmonies of tracks such as “Everybody Cries” (feat. Ёrin Hebrews) and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (feat. Bethia Morris & Joshua Kilonda). Or if you’re attracted by aggressively passionate raps, you’ll be mesmerized by the songs “Tired” (Small Voice) [feat. Moyege] and “Rise” (feat. Anjee).
The synopsis of each song is clearly laid out by King Solomon, but I doubt you will ever need them, just press play, and each song will speak to your soul directly. King Solomon passes the emcee test with relative ease here, and the thoroughly cinematic production of this project flies with Technicolor.
“Illuminate the Dark” successfully emulates the crystalline, modern production aesthetics without a hint of carbon-copy construction. And it bangs too. Taken together, King Solomon has the ingredients for a winner.