Chicago recording artist Kayo released new album It Was Fun While It Lasted this Monday. Yet another example of the burgeoning independent hip-hop scene in The Windy City. Kayo’s slick delivery and lucid lyricism power the impressive project. It Was Fun While It Lasted is bolstered by an array of formidable features, including guest appearances by femdot., Stoic, Sandy Benjamin, Senite and Paris Price.
Kayo dropped lead single Make it Real on January 4th, featuring gorgeous vocal backing from Chicago singer Morgan Gold. A single that foreshadows the elegance of the project, and meshes beautifully with the sonic landscapes that Kayo creates throughout It Was Fun While it Lasted.
One of the most impressive elements of It Was Fun While It Lasted is Kayo’s keen ear for instrumentals. The project is built on such a cohesive, engaging collection of instrumentals. Kayo favors beats that are bright, uplifting and driving. That in general elevates a traditional boom-bap sound with modern design and eclectic rhythm. Joints like Make it Real, 30K Feet and Grandma’s Boy particularly stand out from a soundscape perspective. There are many cinematic qualities to Kayo’s sound. Each song conjures vivid images, and feels like they would be right at home on the big screen.
From a lyrical standpoint, Kayo’s talents are on full display from the jump. In a powerful line on the albums first track, It Ends In Disaster, he asks a powerful question that seemingly paves the way for the project thematically. “Insurance don’t cover therapy, but they cover the marijuana/How the f*ck we learn to smoke before we learn to deal with trauma?” With this profound statement, Kayo introduces the preeminent topic at play here. All of us are dealing with personal crises in some shape or form. And very few of us have the tools or outlets to overcome them in a healthy manner. Hurt echoes these subjects with true power, with verses from Kayo and Ausar portraying generational trauma, and the struggles of moving past it.
30K feet is an absolute gem, which again falls within the fabric of overcoming adversity, and finding some semblance of inner peace. Produced by THRD and Ro Marsalis, the song might hit some familiar chords for fans of lyrical Chicago hip-hop. That’s because the track samples Stay With Me by The Cecil Holmes Soulful Sounds, the same song Lupe Fiasco sampled for Food & Liquor hit Hurt Me Soul. Subtly paying homage to one of his city’s great emcees, Kayo modernizes the flip with heavy 808s. A dope take on a classic track, complete with a soulful hook from singer Gio Genesis.
Still Running sees a fire guest verse from a familiar face to our blog in Sandy Benjamin and the femdot./Paris Price infused Still is another album highpoint. However, our favorite track on It Was Fun While It Lasted begins with an introduction that proclaims the truth: “This is going to be the best song on the album.” Grandma’s Boy is an absolute banger. From its rich and soulful beat to Kayo’s explosive verses. Exploring a seemingly unbreakable relationship with his grandmother, Kayo performs lyrical calisthenics on this one. With remarkable flow, cadence, and delivery. He ties the track in thematically, showing as things change, they remain the same. He and his Grandmother had to struggle together.
It Was Fun While It Lasted does not listen like an independent release. Production value, mixing/mastering, and aesthetics are mature, integrated, and dynamic. We foresee this release to be one that stays in our rotation. A clear sign that Kayo is ready to make some big-time moves in 2023.