FK5’s Sophomore LP Was Well Worth The Wait

Courtesy:  Fort Knox Recordings

Courtesy: Fort Knox Recordings

Fort Knox Five put the hip-hop community and the music community at large on notice when it released its debut album Radio Free D.C. back in 2008. Nearly seven years since that album’s release, the Washington, D.C.-based hip-hop group has put both communities on notice once again with its second full-length release Pressurize the Cabin. Seven years seems like a long time between albums, especially between the group’s first and second album. But in that time, FK5 (as it will henceforth be known) has kept pretty busy, releasing no fewer than five compilation records along the way, at least two EPs and a number of singles. So suffice it to say that FK5 never really went anywhere since it released its debut album. It just took some time for it to release this record. The wait was well worth it, too. That is because the group—Sid Barcelona, Steve Raskin, Rob Myers, and Jon Horvath—has released in Pressurize the Cabin a record that is a solid new effort. It takes the sound and positive vibes established in the group’s debut album and utilizes them to make a new ten-track record that has an identity all its own yet is just as entertaining as its predecessor. That is made clear right off the top in the album’s celebratory song ‘Reach (ft. Flex Matthews).’ ‘Whatcha Gonna Do (ft. Mustafa Akbar)’ is another example of how Pressurize The Cabin has built on the success of its predecessor to make it another great release from a group that is one of the hip-hop community’s best kept secrets. ‘Keep It Poppin (ft. Mustafa Akbar)’ also serves as a great example of what makes FK5’s new record so enjoyable. Its solid beat coupled with its overall musical and lyrical side gives it something of a pop/hip-hop hybrid sound that will have any listener just as much on his or her feet. It’s one more way in which Pressurize The Cabin proves itself to be a hit for anyone looking for a break from all of the cookie cutter, bubble gum hip-hop and pop on the radio today. It isn’t the last way it proves this record to be so enjoyable either. Any of the remaining tracks not noted here could each serve as solid examples of why audiences should hear this record. Whether for those songs or the pieces more specifically noted, the combination of each shows clearly why Pressurize The Cabin is a triple threat of a record. It proves in the long run to be one of this year’s best new independent releases, one of the year’s best new hip-hop/rap records, and potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall.

FK5’s new album Pressurize The Cabin is a triple threat record. It is fully deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hip-hop and rap albums as well as the year’s best new independent releases. It could even be argued at least as a candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new albums overall with its mix of upbeat music and positive lyrics. This is proven right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Reach (ft. Flex Mathews).’ This piece grabs listeners’ attention right from the beginning with its laid back groove. Having listeners’ attention, Mathews takes the mic to deliver a message that will put just as much of a smile on listeners’ faces. He raps over the song’s groove, “This be the blueprint for reachin’ for the stars/I did it for myself now I do it for ya’ll/I said reach/You ain’t gotta be fly/I said reach/Ain’t nothin’ wrong with touchin’ the sky/This be the blueprint for movin’ on up/For all my folks who got down/Yeah, they know what’s up/I said reach.” Mathews adds in the song’s closing verse, “Work hard, play hard/That’s all I’ve got to say ya’ll/They say the future ain’t real/So live for today, ya’ll.” He also notes at different points of reaching for the stars and of his own determination along with that of the members of FK5. Simply put, the overall lyrical content of this song presents a message of self-determination and optimism versus just being content with just getting by. It is a great message for audiences of all ages. This is especially the case when it is compared to so much other rap and hip-hop available to audiences today. Again, set against the song’s laid back bongo-driven groove, it shows exactly why it was chosen as the album’s opener and why it is also one of the album’s best singles.

‘Reach ft. Flex Mathews’ is a great first impression from FK5 on its latest release. It is an equally great introduction to the group for those that might not be so familiar with its body of work so far. It is only one example of what makes Pressurize The Cabin is among this year’s cream of the crop, too. The album’s third track ‘Whatcha Gonna Do ft. Mustafa Akbar’ is just as solid an example of how much this album has to offer audiences. Whereas the album’s opener is more laid back, this composition will instantly have listeners on their feet. That is thanks to its old school funk sound and equally celebratory lyrics. The song’s musical side conjures thoughts of Parliament Funkadelic with its horns and its guitar line set against its infectious beats. Lyrically speaking, it ‘s just as fun thanks to the simplicity of said lyrics. Akbar and company sing over that so easily danceable musical side, “Time to party hard/Intoxicated by/Gonna set it off/Get a spirit shine/Let the music fill your soul/Now your body wants to let go/Let go/Whatcha gonna do/When we funk for you/Whatcha gonna do/When we funk for you/Put your hands up/Just put your hands up/Put your hands up/Just put your hands up/Put your hands up/Just put your hands up/Let the music get you hot/While you rock from side to side/Put your hands up/Just put your hands up.” No doubt anyone that listens to this song will in fact have their hands up and hips moving to this song. Because of this, there is even less doubt that this song will become just as much of a fan favorite both on record and in a live setting. In becoming a fan favorite it will show in the long run once again why Pressurize The Cabin is such an impressive new release in itself and in comparison to its counterparts in the hip-hop community.

Both ‘Reach ft. Flex Mathews’ and ‘Whatcha Gonna Do ft. Mustafa Akbar’ prove in their own way why Pressurize The Cabin is one of the best of the year’s hip-hop and rap crop. They are just a couple of examples of what makes this record so fun. FK5 kicks off the second half of the album with one more example of what makes it so fun in the fittingly titled ‘Keep It Poppin’ ft. Mustafa Akbar.’ ‘Keep It Poppin’ does in fact keep this record poppin’ thanks to its old school funk/disco hybrid sound driven by its guitar and keyboard lines. The song’s lyrical side keeps things poppin’ just as much as the group sings together, “We keep it poppin’/We keep rockin’ the spots/Some use it for the rhythm and the rhyme/Some use it for the beat keep time/Some listen jus to prove to their friends/That they know every word/So they sing every line/Some listen for the hip-hop, hip-hop/Some listen for the one-drop, one-drop/Some listen for the soul in the funk/And the bass in the trunk.” The group is saying without saying that everyone listens to its music for their reason. While it isn’t noted directly, it is inferred through these lyrics and the song’s musical energy that it doesn’t matter why people listen as long as they’re listening. This is driven home even more so as the group sings later in the song, “Party people on the left/funk/All the people on the right/Funk/Everybody from the back to the front fun/You know we can’t, we won’t stop.” Simply put, the song is just a song that encourages listeners to get on the ance floor and get moving. It is just a great, feel good song that once more will have listeners smiling happily as they dance and sing along. It could even be argued that with its mix of music and lyrics, this song is the highest of this album’s full complement of high points. That is just this critic’s own interpretation of course. Audiences will each find their own favorite(s) throughout the record when they hear it for themselves. Every one of the album’s tracks is sure to be a favorite, too. Taking that into consideration, audiences will agree in the end that all ten of the songs that make up this record make it one whole that is one of the best new hip-hop/rap albums of this year, one of the year’s best new independent albums, and potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall.

All three of the songs noted in this review show in their own way that Pressurize The Cabin is more than deserving of being added to any critic’s list of the year’s best new hip-hop/rap albums, independent albums, and potentially even the year’s best new albums overall. The songs not noted here strengthen that argument even more. Audiences new and old alike will agree with this sentiment when they hear Pressurize The Cabin for themselves. It is available now in stores and online. Audiences will also be able to pick up the album and hear it for themselves at any of FK5’s upcoming shows, which are listed on the group’s Facebook page and its official website. Audiences can also get all of the latest news from FK5 on both sites.

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