Review by Kane White
Label and release date: The Factory (2015)
After a two-year hiatus, Birmingham-based rapper Ky’Orion (formerly Ky) has returned with his second full-length project, Steppin’ Stones, which boasts 24 tracks that make up for each month Ky’Orion has been absent from the music scene.
The first thing that stands out on Steppin’ Stones is its short interludes, which feature Ky’Orion and LB of the Factory. There are plenty of these on the mixtape, but they serve a purpose and explain what Ky’Orion has been doing the past two years and the thinking behind some of the tracks. Ky’Orion’s choice of topic on Steppin’ Stones covers almost everything: religion, marijuana, family, optimism, women, lyricism, money, race, peace and, above all, life. At 24 tracks, Steppin’ Stones is a weighty listen, but this allows room for Ky’Orion to explore the aforementioned topics: FuCK MONEY is about how money is needed to survive even if one doesn’t like the concept of it, on SHAOLiN Ky’Orion boasts about his superior MCing ability, DRAMA is about karma and i WiSH features a strong verse from Roy47ty and is about what the title of the song suggests.
The Factory’s production on Steppin’ Stones is more than impressive, and the instrumentals for MuRDERER, HuSTLERS WAY and iMAGiNE are some of the best on the mixtape. Ky’Orion flows over each of them with precision while demonstrating that his ability as an MC is unquestionable, and, ironically, due to his versatile style sounding so effortless, it’s possible to not notice KY’ORiON’s exceptional flow at times. But tracks like GOiN iN, HuSTLERS WAY and H.A.F. are some of the strongest songs on the release as well as bright glimmers of Ky’Orion’s potential and proof that he can stand beside some of the best in UK hip-hop.
There are only a few, prominent UK hip-hop artists that provide an alternative look beyond the money, trapping, clothes and violence that popular UK rap artists often speak about. Although Ky’Orion doesn’t solely belong to the political, trap or conscious sides of UK hip-hop, he is certainly on the introspective end with an unusual addition of frequencies and spirituality.
Ky’Orion, along with the Factory, has crafted several great tracks on Steppin’ Stones, and it is a release that any fan of hip-hop should be paying attention to.
- Reason to listen to: to hear one of the UK’s most promising hip-hop musicians.
- Favourite tracks: HuSTLERS WAY, i KNOW, STiLL ROLLiN’
- Favourite lyric: “Open your mind or keep your frequency low.”
- Where to get: Datpiff
Have you heard STEPPiN’ STONES? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments