Independent releases typically leave something to be desired, and new Christian rap group Keno Camp is no different. The group was recently signed to an independent label and will be going out on tour with the legendary Gospel Gangstaz over 2014. While the four members are undoubtedly talented and boast some incredibly fast verses, there is something lacking here on Riot, the group’s debut. It’s not the stories or the subject matter – they’ve got the Christian hip-hop model down. Songs like “Still Me” put their individual struggles on the line where the band comes real.
With that realness, the record isn’t missing any passion. These guys have it by the truckload. The thing that’s missing is the production quality and focus on the craft of the song. Each track feels somehow hollow, despite the intensity with which the various members flow. The beats don’t do this group justice. Songs like “Murder Me” need a harder hitting element for it to meet the level of talent on the microphone. One of the best cuts here, “Cocktails,” has a solid soul hook, but again, something is missing in the production.
Keno Camp is super talented, and their expertise reminds me of how I felt when I first listened to Lecrae’s debut, Real Talk. But what kept Lecrae in the game and relevant was keeping great producers behind him. I’m now more interested in seeing how Keno Camp translates live, but also if they get some better production on their next album. And keep guest vocalist Brittannee Haralson around – she’s the best thing there.