Kay Anthony - Color Therapy
Color Therapy by Kay Anthony is a jolt to the system. The structure is made clear from the jump: skits of his therapist asking him tough questions make way for song-length answers. It’s a simple premise, more about how its executed than the setup itself. If this sounds familiar, it’s likely due to the high-profile album it shared a release date with. But while that artist descends from the clouds every few years with the world’s expectations on his shoulders, this is the picture of an artist working his ass off to get there. Stardom doesn’t hit everyone in their youth, and tireless work doesn’t always pay dividends direct. This is the story of someone not just down to earth, but bound to it, dirt under his fingernails. He’s rapping from a position that’s far too real: where neighbourhood realities never fade away, there’s always new personal obstacles to overcome, and the people around you are depending on you now, not later.
Listening through, there’s plenty of pivots sonically. He can really rap his head off, as is evident right from the start. But the blistering bars and filthy 808s give way to a spacier, warmer feel as the album goes on. Guests show up to enhance or strengthen the sentiment of songs, excelling in their specific niches, and the tapestry it weaves all together is riveting. While addressing heavy topics like talking to God, angels, relationships and self-love, he never gets anywhere near being preachy or holier-than-thou. And even though the songs are concocted as answers to specific questions, they stand alone individually. Not that he’s seeking playlisting, but concept albums usually go all in on concept and sacrifice the strength of individual songs, which is clearly not the case here. Describing this album is tough; the somber tone and difficult self-truths juxtaposed with the kaleidoscope of sounds and approaches will have you nodding your head while reflecting on your life.
“That’s why we like sugar but still end up with cavities, That’s why you chasing alienation and can’t master peace, That’s why your heart is at war but you’re searching for casualties, You too busy tryna defy your limits, what you think, you Master P?” - Kay Anthony, Better
Many rappers have trouble making fans understand that they are people. Too often, these brilliant artists are reduced to their symbolic celebrity and the imagined lifestyle it entails. Fans can find it hard to sympathize when their favourite drops a “it’s hard being famous” album, but that’s not what this is. Sometimes, you can have all the talent and hustle, and it still feels like you’ll never stop having to prove yourself, forever clawing for the fame you know should be yours. Kay Anthony breaks down the duality of being a rapper. He talks about the pressure he faces, about feeling hopeless but having to keep going. About the difficulty of caring for yourself. He says “I heard pressure pays”, and you know he’s pushing through it. He’s been through the petty block stuff, the family struggles, and he’s done the exhausting work of climbing those mountains to see beyond them. He’s from NYC, a cold, competitive city with young drillers and old-head billionaires all in one market. Capitalism churns, and it’s up to each person to keep pushing forward regardless, and make a lane if there isn’t one already.
Mental health is a continuing and essential theme in his art, as you can see in this short film of his from 2017, DEMONS/PARANOIA. The Village Voice did an accompanying article where they discuss his childhood and familial history. It's hard to find this sort of raw honesty, even in a therapist’s office. And yet, as the voice prods him to explore all sorts of dark corners in his psyche, it doesn’t feel fragmented or disjointed. Instead, we see how all of these things tie together and shape the person we hear responding. We get into his head, feel his doubt, know the rage. In the end, the answer to the question
“Will you get better Kay?" “I hope so, some day.”
Heard. That song, Better, ends with sage advice from a grandmother, telling us
“Baby, trouble don’t last always.”
It’s thoroughly an album - a complete project, and a pointed self portrait too. A number of producers were tapped for this, and the lush sound does not let up. Truly incredible tones and textures all the way throughout. Notably, RunitupDay has credits on two of the joints. Fans of Isaiah Rashad’s The House is Burning will appreciate the dreaminess, delivery, and stunning guest vocals. But outside comparisons to his peers and contemporaries, this is an album for any of us feeling lost. If you’re looking for guidance and blessings, or at the very least a splash of color on the gray, you’ll find a kindred spirit in these songs. We’re all in this together with Kay, and you’ll come out of listening knowing you’re far from alone.
NOTABLE TRACKS: "Bless Me" (ft. Dot Demo,) "Hopeful Wishing" (ft. Jai Emm,) "Better," "Lord Father Pt. 2" & "30 (Interlude)"
EVERYTHING KAY ANTHONY: https://fanlink.to/ColorTherapy