Mental health impacts just over one in eight men in England. At its peak, it can contribute to one of the biggest causes in death amongst men today — suicide.
UK based rapper Kojey Radical openly unpacked his dealings with mental health, specifically depression earlier this year, as a part of his single release for 'Can’t Go Back'. Using his platform on Twitter and publications such as HYPEBEAST, he stated that he used dance as a form of therapy. Armed with both fans and a new-found resurgence, Radical unveils his album 'Cashmere Tears', delving into his narrative further.
'Cashmere Tears' almost instantly engages the listener with Kojey Radical’s past and recurring demons placed at the forefront of his utterances. “Had to take a minute // Let my lyrics match my mindframe” he admits on the albums introduction ‘Where Should I Begin’. It’s clear that Radical sacrificed his trajectory for the sake of his health and comfortability in his internal state.
Using figurative lexicon throughout, the act is poetic in his acknowledgement of truth. Still, towards the end of ‘Where Should I Begin’, he’s born again, almost determined in regaining his self-worth and creative groove. It’s apparent here, that like all artists, blockers can and do prevent work at pace sometimes. Vic Mensa, for example highlighted this in a 2017 interview with Instyle. Radical adds to an era of rappers who are beginning to demonstrate a commitment to being transparent with darker thoughts and conditions.
The references to mental health appear later on, as depression is revisited shortly after in ‘Can’t Go Back’. Here, however, the latter focus on getting out of one's despair is delivered in a more pronounced way. Gospel-led voices in the background aide Radical as he states that he can’t return to broken moments.
Although lyrically brilliant, the power of ‘Can’t Go Back’ comes from the sonic backing throughout. As the album-track gears up to close, a saxophone is heard for close to half a minute, soothing the listener into a state of peace. It’s this very component that marks the number as a point of peace. The new-age, music artist marks his commitment to the betterment of self.
Also divulged across Cashmere Tears, is the art of seduction. First addressed in ‘Sugar’, Kojey Radical appears to be entranced by the idea of sex. Explicitly stating the need to get high, paid and prepared in other ways for intercourse, the lyricist does articulate his hope of there being more for him to hold onto.
However, his commitment to areas “beneath the torso” manages to suffice in the end, as he acknowledges his entry into the realm of sin. The number is extremely matter of fact, however it’s marinated in an artistic portrayal, with the analogy of bathing confidence being used to convey sexual intercourse. Here, the talent and attention to lyrical-skill is more than exhibited.
Later on, Radical dabbles in spoken word as he conceptualises sex on ‘Hours’, as something less seductive, thrilling, and easily accessible. Quite the contrary, a well-thought out picture is painted, expressing a more comfortable, love-making aspect to the action. Using vocal distortion, particularly across the chorus, ‘Hours’ is reminiscent of older-school funk, which instantly fits the overall throwback essence across the wordsmith's entire discography.
Amongst its minimalism in places, louder and fuller songs exist on ‘Cashmere Tears’ one of them being ‘Feel About It’. A disgruntled Kojey Radical is more aggressive here, as he navigates his emotional instability and complex management of relationships. “I make me sick,” he states, as the song reaches its climax.
The idea of having a lack of accountability, displacement of close figures in his life and lack of care plagues the artist as relatable concepts begin to take shape of the pressures of both mental health and loneliness, and are prominent before the song closes. A strong combination of drums, wind instruments and keyboard selections are also heard, echoing the loss of stability as a central-crux.
Ultimately, 'Cashmere Tears' places Kojey Radical in a nuanced state of emotions. Backed by real-life experiences and growth from them, the physically young artist is able to convey mature, nurtured and considered life-timelines which — if failing to resonate with his target audience — allow for the wider-eyes of the world to get a glimpse of the true package and depth that he possesses in the palm of his hand. A truly refreshing LP.
Words: Nicolas Tyrell
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