Reason to Smile Review: Kojey Radical’s Most Powerful Project To Date

The debut album of the magnificent Kojey Radical provides a gratifying collection of sounds that encapsulates his spectacular rise in artistry, from spoken word to the musical stage.

kojey radical reason to smile


Reason to Smile, from the magnificent Kojey Radical, provides a gratifying collection of sounds that encapsulates his spectacular rise in artistry, from spoken word to the musical stage.

Although a debut album, Reason To Smile is another page in Kojey’s illustrious book which features chapters of work beginning from his poetic background. Watching on, it was clear Kojey had such a potential – implementing his work with a consciousness, a soul, a concern and an endeavour to articulate it through words as much as sound.

He did this with Deary Daisy: Opium – his first project that collated his spoken word with low-fi jazz meshed beats and visuals fit for fashion – and 23 Winters, an African diasporic tape that touched on a spate of issues and realities they face. The same is true for In Gods Body, which was again laced with insight to Black livelihoods, and his previous in Cashmere Tears, a tape that exemplified the level of creativity he had reached. These projects were given so much life and creative invigoration that as a result, Kojey has essentially mastered formatting a great album already. 

kojey radical reason to smile

Reason To Smile is his most powerful project to date, as he collates an album from all his creative experiences and access so far. Kojey pieces together an album that projects his concerns as a buzzing star, who’s not so far from us as he suffers from the same inhibitions in life. Such as the 24/7 grind mentality, the disenfranchisement of being a young Black person, the livelihoods as diaspora placed in a space willing to alienate them.

His experience in curating great conceptual projects makes this album almost seamless, as well as bringing out the best in features that seem to align with his creative endeavours and the topics at hand. Kojey’s mother introduces and interjects in the tape with timely advice or responses to questions that essentially ignite a whole song. 

It begins with ‘Reason To Smile’, featuring the terrific Tiana Major9. It is a statement for greater times and being above some projected imposter syndrome, a recognition of eclipsing worry Is he up is he next, who knows who cares, felt 10 pounds lighter when I let go of my fears – and I found my Reason To Smile”. It blends greatly into ‘Together’, a funkadelic song that chimes in on the mission to stay afloat. ‘Nappy’ reminds me of a traditional Kojey, if you can say that, this flow and beat familiar from a lot of his previous work. A personal favourite is ‘Silk’ featuring Masego, a classy, smooth, soulful song. ‘Pressure’ offers a more mellow tone of rumination, the silky voice of Shae Universe ushers you into thought alongside Kojey’s hard hitting message of overcoming the amounting of it. 

Another favourite is ‘Born’ featuring Cashh, lest we forget a wonderful rapper who if not for troubles with deportation, discrimination and harassment by police could very much be a top artist in this country. His second FIFA Track, ‘War Outside’, featuring Lex Amor shows how versatile his own flow can be, settling alongside Lex’s subtle tones.The single Payback featuring Knucks flips the solemn and almost spooky mood of ‘War Outside’ with a funky wiry beat, that Knucks skips over with ease. Kojey loves an emphatic, powerful and very different hook in context of the sounds we have here, often chanting them himself, which is testament to him knowing how to utilise a different range of genres – like Jazz, Funk, RNB and forms of soul. It rolls into ‘FUBU’, in which he wishes success for all his people that made this, as in the culture and community, be.

Reason To Smile is studded with greatness, and years of invigorating work. It is a wonderful album that deserves to represent the phenomenon that is Kojey Radical.

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