There’s a divergence between being an ‘entertainer’ versus being an ‘authentic artist’ in hip hop, and King B can firmly be identified by critics and fans as the latter: the straight-edge wordsmith either spits downright truths, or eclectic left-field poetry demystifying and de-glamorizing the hip-hop culture. In fact, I doubt labels of any kind particularly interest the Denver artist at this time. King B seems to thrive on being enigmatic – but there’s also no doubt that Staples knows how to entertain, albeit in his own deadpan way. And this is what is immediately apparent when his latest track, “Gone” (Prod. Ric & Thadeus) opens: King B – who will soon become everyone’s favorite alternative rapper – knows exactly how to make a banger.
High-quality artistry – both lyrically and production-wise – and entertainment value don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and there is no hip hop recording this year so far that has had this much immediacy, off the cuff lyrical spontaneity, and that has nailed it in so many ways. The music is blatantly weirder, bolder and more jarring than your usual Top40 fodder.
Unlike his more famous rap brethren, King B is hardly interested in accolades and conventions. “Gone” (Prod. Ric & Thadeus) is instead a way for King B to further his cynical worldview and blunt lyricism from a personal angle, as he looks directly into the eye of mainstream hip-hop and quietly dismantles it.
The lyrics, often delivered in an even and deadpan tone, are as blunt and revealing as ever — personal testimonies almost hidden in plain sight. The rhymes often carry incredible weight and commentary in condensed verses and language that challenge the listener to look beyond the production.
In the world of King B, if often feels as though you’re not listening quite hard enough. On the surface, the song seems to not reveal itself easily through the smoke-filled cryptic atmosphere, but the true moments of genius are scattered in King B’s verses, only to make the majority of his lyrics cut all the deeper, once you’ve worked them out.
A major talent of King B seems to be his ability to remove any unnecessary language or sentiment from his music, allowing the messages to be contained and communicated concisely via his words, and not through melodramatic performances.
And he is closer than ever to mastering this craft here. When listening to King B, it’s hard not to see most of the rest of the hip-hop world in a superficial light, filled with ideas that only distract from the point, whatever the point may be. King B is just pointing out what he sees in such a clever way it’s near impossible to not take note, or to argue his point.