Clandestine in its delivery but hardly lacking in the sort of muscularity required to get a crowded dancefloor moving to the sway of the beat, there’s duality to most every action Darrell Kelley takes in his new single “Kamala” in the best way possible. Doing what he does best in celebration of a critical moment in history, Kelley shines like a diamond behind the microphone in this performance, but to say that his smooth singing is the only reason to take note of his work here simply wouldn’t be doing the composition justice.
Lyrically and instrumentally, “Kamala” is already as tight a pop release as they come, but without the personality of its lead singer acting as the backbone for every verse and virtuosic melodic lashing we hear in its three and a half minute running time, I just don’t know that it would have the same impact it’s going to in this present state. There are a lot of artists trying to capture the essence of the mood in America right now, but from those I’ve personally reviewed I can honestly say that none of them have sounded quite like this performer does.
There’s nothing robotic about these lyrics nor the rhythm guiding them, and I think it was particularly intelligent of Kelley to make sure that the beat was never dependent on the thrust of the percussion exclusively. In using the bass as an element of reinforcement on the bottom-end, as opposed to being a straightforward agent of texture as he has in the past, he’s making it all the harder for us to resist the temptation to synchronize with the groove in the backdrop. Certainly it could have been louder and accomplished both feats, but I personally like the conservative placement it’s been afforded for this track. There’s already so much of a swell coming off of the synths that I don’t think there would have been much room for more tonal intensity than what we’ve already been gifted here without sounding a little bloated in the big picture (which is usually enough to turn me off of a song entirely).
As accessible to fans of melodic hip-hop as it is club-oriented pop music designed around a stellar beat, Darrell Kelley’s “Kamala” is an excellent listen any way you slice it. Kelley has shown off a lot of diversity as a player and specifically within his skillset over the past year, but while some might look at trying to top what he’s already done as being too daunting a task for any indie artist to undertake singlehandedly, I don’t imagine him slowing from the speed he’s been comfortable at in the months ahead.
With the industry remaining relatively unpredictable in terms of live music and even recording schedules at this point, he’s wise to stick with the routine that has been working for his career so far, and with just a little more exposure via the release of “Kamala,” I think he’s going to be sitting well with mainstream and underground audiences alike.
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