Kanye West. Supremely talented producer and up & coming MC who, even with that talent and a strong work ethic to go with it, could not get that big break… and then he crashed his car. Okay so his story isn’t quite that simple and the crash was life threatening but my point is that it only takes a moment. A stutter of indecision here, the hit of a snooze button there and life as you know it may never be the same again. What does any of this have to do with possible future super producer and gifted MC Adian Coker? Two things (the second of which I’ll get to later). First: a musician who consistently provides the masses with music of such quality, will surely make that breakthrough… sooner or later.
His latest outpouring of excellence, Connect, sees his now customary improvement and musical expansion take pride of place in the middle of a slightly moodier backdrop than his previous efforts. The lack of a distinct change of pace in any of the six tracks on show (the only negative I have to offer) embraces this change but it’s the depth of quality (and the superb engineering) of the songs that allow it to be an advantage instead of a drawback. Thanks mainly to a ponderous yet commanding bass line that is this EPs constant from beginning to end, this more in your face Adian we are confronted with is a near perfect match for his surroundings.
The opening, low frequency testing bass line of Memories sets the rumbling tone of what lies beyond. The ‘trapsational’ elements of current Rap are well catered for but this is done without the complete desertion of his core methodology. Nothing New and the ornament rattling Aim all follow that same modus operandi. Yet so superb is the production that this is very easy to overlook. Things take a tougher and more Boom Bap laden turn with Krispy, in which the conductor in chief allows the 80s rock inspired snare drum to take centre stage. The choppy scatter gun synth and Trap Bap drums of Wide Shut take you sonically, back to more familiar territory, with Adian showing us a little more of the Im-gonna-make-it swagger that he decided to keep bottled up for the rest of the EP. And yet he still managed to save his best till last.
Iyamide’s Son is a subtle culmination of sorts. An understated (and relatively short) apex of all Mr Coker has picked up on his career journey so far. In a smart switch the percussion on the verses are sparse and build to a climactic chorus. The beat, when it arrives, is a solid head nodder while the drums that went into creating it are of an accessible, ever-so-slightly dark origin. The brooding synth marries superbly with Charlotte Turnbull’s haunting vocal on the hook yet it is because this is also where Adian is delving the deepest inside himself, that makes the song standout. He tells of the vexations that family and friends often throw up while trying to both further his career and simply get by. But rather than reaching for a string of super deep spiritual revelations. He keeps things simple and more importantly, relatable. Smarter still, was allowing this song to be the EPs climax.
As for the second reason for the Kanye comparison; For me, Adian’s talent now, is a juxtaposition of Ye’s prowess back then. In some ways, he is just as gifted as that version of Mr West was and he carries more authority in his mic skills. The musicality in his songs definitely goes against the grain of popular Hip Hop’s current guise but it is undoubtedly his greatest asset. I only hope that he doesn’t sacrifice that to elevate his status to new heights. If there are such things as alternate universes, surely Adian Coker is already a superstar in one of them.