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Kansas City-based hip hop artist Duncan Burnett has been carving a path for himself within the midwest music community for quite some time now, today’s release of his new EP – The Almighty EP – serving as the culmination of all of his hard work and dedication. And it shows as early as the intro, a spoken word gem of a track that establishes the concept of social change as an overarching theme. The second track, “Church”, is Burnett’s anthem, as he discusses his stance on religion and how he lives his life. Perhaps the track is more of an introduction for Burnett, as his fanbase has multiplied due simply to some of his most recent work. And it’s the perfect introduction, as he continues to sum up his being, though almost beginning with the most concise and beautiful claim to fame: “I’m a young black visionary rapper on a mission.” Though “Church” does have a more anthemic vibe than its predecessor, the third track of The Almighty is actually titled “Anthem”, and serves as a little more of a collective anthem, instead of a testament to his individual character. The slight tempo changes are endearing, making us wonder how you could possibly pass this up, even after ten or more spins. (We’re not saying we got to that point, but we may have.)
“Wave” feels almost alien, but in a transformative and beautiful way. The feelings we have when listening to this track are a bit intangible, but our appreciation for Burnett’s lyrical anecdotes increases tenfold with his smooth as honey vocals. Fifth track “Trust” is about detaching yourself from a relationship that was – at one point, at the very least – solid and stable. Over the course of three minutes and thirty-two seconds, Burnett perfectly encapsulates our many emotions after going through a cycle of betrayal. His honesty pours out, the reverb bringing the tone of the song up a bit so we don’t fall into a puddle of tears.
“Praise Break” is largely just that, a majority of it spoken word as Duncan stops to appreciate all that surrounds him and how he got to where he is. Eventually, it develops into a musical experience, replete with autotune and captivation audio loops until its completion. “Almighty” really reins you back in, a rougher feel to the track (thank you, electric guitar!) with a pace that would put Outkast themselves to shame.
The release of the animated video for his single “Black Boy Joy” in March set the bar for what we have to expect from this talented musician’s next release. The comic relief within the visual art – directed/animated by Supa Flowa and produced by Dominique Sanders – is genius, the simplicity of the drawings a remarkable way to leave the track easily translatable. Of course, the song itself serves as the perfect bookend to the new EP. As he claims that he’s done (presumably, with this collection of tracks), he regales us with the reasons he’s joyful at the moment.
And we can’t help but revel in his happiness.
Be sure to go see Burnett at on May 13th at recordBar in downtown Kansas City. The event will feature performances by Le Grand and Payge Turner, and is sure to be amazing.
The Almighty is out now. Keep up with Duncan Burnett here.
Header photo by Lucas Carpenter. Shot at Sofar Sounds KC. See the full gallery here.