Thursday, October 13, 2011

Screwball Week, Day 7: KL's Last Record

So, I really don't know how or precisely when Kamakaze stopped being KL and Kyron and became just KL, but at some point it did. It was always the two guys until it became just the one guy. And perhaps that change is largely responsible for this record's under-performance... people were like, "Kamakaze with no Kyron? On a new label with new producers? No thanks!" That's why you see this record on sale everywhere, $.99, $.69... But, hey, I'll take a KL solo record. Don't throw those out, give them to me!

This is "It's All Good" on Traffic Entertainment. It dropped in 2004, the same year as the Screwed Up compilation and Hostyle's solo record. It's the last year anything came out from Screwball as a group. Poet had already started coming out on Premier's label... Screwball may've already been tough for the guys at Hydra to wrangle together, but this is when they really just went off and did their own things.

So, you've got two tracks, with the full break-down: Dirty, Clean, Instrumental and Acapella. Both tracks are produced by E. Blaze, who may not be a name you recognize, but he produced "Underworld Operations" for Lord Finesse, "Fire Water" for Fat Joe, and just recently a track for Show and Krs One's new project; so he's actually a safe bet. It's a little smoother than your average Screwball track, but it thumps and has some hard samples. And similarly, while KL's flow is a little more relaxed, his scratchy voice still has that distinctive Screwball edge.

And speaking of that Screwball edge, the crew may've split, but it's still held down here. You've got the signature "Hu-haaa!" in both songs, and a guest appearance by Blaq Poet himself on the second one.

"Right Here" is the B-side, and the hook defiantly assures us, "Screwball, we ain't goin' nowhere; we're right here!" It's still a bit smoother than Screwball fans would expect maybe, but it's a lot closer to the traditional formula. The exploitation strings sound just like something Don would've hooked up for 'em two years earlier. The echoey, bongo-style percussion is a new element that E is bringing to the table, but it's funky, so it's impossible to complain. And just to seal the deal, there's some Premier-style scratches at the end, shouting out Queensbridge.

To boil it down to a real simple assessment, the A-side is good and the B-side is great. I guess I can see why people might've been reluctant to mess with this, since it seems like a new, less desirable direction for Screwball. And honestly, an entire album of KL somewhat smoothed out does sound disappointing - I didn't pick this one up right away myself for that reason. I waited until it became one of those records I saw everywhere I turned, super cheap. But if you forget about what it was supposedly foretelling (there never was an album follow-up to this single, anyway, so it's a moot point), and just take this record on its own merits - it's good shit! And the fact that even cheaper and easier to add to your collection than when it was new is just a bonus. Usually it works the other way: you hold off on buying a record because you're not sure about it, and then years later you realize how dope it was, and what an essential piece it is for your collection, and the only way to get it is to pay exorbitant prices on EBay. But for once, cynicism at least pays off a little bit.

And of course, now knowing that it's KL's last record... though not his last appearance. A graf crew he was down with at the time, The Grim Team (that's a Grim Team shirt he's wearing on the picture cover, above), featured him on their album in 2007. But knowing how that it's the last record in his sadly limited body of work, makes it all the more essential.

R.I.P. Kenneth Lewis, KL, a.k.a. Legacy.


  1. gotta put in my two cents once more.... Grim Team was KL's group? I don't know too much abotu them, but I thought they were just some graff writers / producers from France and Chaze moved to NY and started hanging out with all those QB guys... Did KL join them?

  2. Yeah, I should've phrased that a little better... I'll go back and edit that sentence. He wasn't ever a member of GT (well, as far as I know) like he was a member of Screwball or anything. I just meant he was down with them, sort of like Screwball was down with Ghetto Pros... there was more than a passing connection.