Boomkat Product Review:
Classy amalgam of rap, jazz, and experimental urges from Brownswood’s new signing, comparable to everything from Flying Lotus to Radiohead
“Seattle-raised, Brooklyn-residing Kassa Overall is a jazz musician, emcee, singer, producer, and drummer. His second, full-length album, I THINK I’M GOOD, is the work of an artist whose voice has ripened to its own hard-earned, provocative conclusions, erasing the need to talk about dissolving barriers between hip hop and jazz because he has begun a new conversation.
I THINK I’M GOOD is a window into the real life of Overall, a Bushwick-based artist wrestling with the abhorrent American prison system, the ebbs and flows of romantic relationships, and perils of trust, all seen through the kaleidoscopic lens of a brilliant 21st century composer. The backdrop to these varied themes is Overall confronting his experience with mental illness, which included a manic episode and subsequent hospitalisation when he was a student. Themes of incarceration and claustrophobia weave through the record, but never drown out the feeling of a fragile but vital hope.
Like Karriem Riggins before him, Overall belongs to a rare class of musicians naturally fluent in both jazz performance and hip-hop production. He’s also a clear contemporary of brazen, potent genre-shifters like Madlib, Flying Lotus, Solange, and Kendrick Lamar. Yet one of the most striking aspects of I THINK I’M GOOD is its singular intimacy, a byproduct of Overall’s indie hustle and uncanny at-home and on-the-fly production methods. In fact, most of the album happened out of Overall’s Bushwick bedroom and a backpack. "I’ve recently begun to think of myself as a backpack jazz producer, which is something like a cross between a jazz musician, a backpack rapper and a bedroom producer," said Overall, who mostly used a skeletal mobile studio (laptop, a simple audio interface, and microphone), giving the album a distinctively inward, almost confidential flavour.”