Ka - The Night's Gambit (Review)

Ka - The Night's Gambit (cover)

"The Night's Gambit" is the third album from Brownsville emcee Ka. The album was produced entirely by Ka himself and features a single guest appearance from fellow New York rapper Roc Marciano. It was released on July 13, 2013 via Ka's own Iron Works label.

1) You Know It's About - The album begins with a quick Bruce Lee sample before jumping into a menacing instrumental with some dark strings and ominous drums. Ka rips the beat, rhyming in his trademark "spoken poetry" type flow. His delivery is only part of the equation though - Ka is all about the deep lyrics and deft wordplay, which is evident from the jump. On this track he just spits some real shit about himself and where he comes from - "that pain, that gutter." This track is FIRE and a great way to start the album.

2) Our Father - This was the first single from the album and its banging. The beat is less energetic than the first, with a desolate sample and minimalistic drums. Ka raps about the streets and his thirst for revenge about the death of his man, but prays for God's forgiveness before he commits the crime.
"I seek revenge with sleeping mens, ride or die
Most definite Old Testament, eye for eye
Damn straight, can't wait to put snub to their shirt
I'm out for hustler justice soon as they shovel the dirt"
He is going to sin, but he hopes God looks away and forgives him for it. The beat, which sounds like a clock ticking down his last few seconds of freedom, compliments the lyrics perfectly. Very ill.

3) Jungle - The beat on this track has an atmospheric, breezy feel to it with some bluesy guitars and epic string samples. Ka rips it, as always, and spits some heartfelt lyrics full of religious imagery and street scriptures while utilizing an "urban jungle" theme.
"Born in the jungle, out the womb runnin'
Better move youngin', predators are soon comin'"
Another banger.

4) Barring The Likeness - This song has a sparse sample that will probably get your head nodding a bit despite the lack of drums. Ka's voice sound perfect over instrumentals such as this one and the stripped down feel helps you focus on his poignant lyrics instead of on the beat itself. Masta Killah put it best when he said "the dumb are mostly intrigued by the drum." By using very little to no drums, Ka has effectively focused all your attention on the lyrics. Very dope.

5) Nothing Is - The instrumental on this track is less foreboding than some of the others, but only by a little bit. It's also one of the few tracks to have a prominent drum pattern underneath the textured sample. Ka comes correct and spits about finding his lane in the rap game. If this ain't meant for him, then nothin' is. Nice.

6) Soap Box (featuring Roc Marciano) - This song has the sort of blaxploitation funk instrumental that both Ka and guest Roc Marciano are known for sounding great over. There are not many emcees out there like these guys and this song is a good example of that. Both emcees are on point and have great chemistry together on the mic. Their upcoming collaborative project, under the moniker "Metal Clergy," is going to be serious.

7) Peace Akhi - This is definitely one of the darkest songs on the album so far. The beat is barren and bleak, with some depressing industrial sounds and resonant bass. Ka rips it though, spitting some violent street lyrics filled with vivid imagery and intricate wordplay.
"In the streets buggin', huggin' my cousin's snub
Blitzed but still puffin', it's nothin', cuffin' a dozen slugs
Obvious protection, defense against public grudge
Object of affection, like a prince for niggas lovin' drugs"
This might be my favorite song on the album. Absolute fire.

8) Knighthood - The beat on this track is a bit lighter than the previous track, but not by much. The instrumental has some melancholy organs with the occasional vocal sample coming in every now and then. The lyrics are heartfelt and sorrowful as Ka raps about how he is amazed that he made it this far in life having been raised in the cold streets. Dope.

9) 30 Pieces of Silver - This song has a cinematic instrumental with some light keys, subdued horns and layered keyboards, but doesn't really have any drums at all. While I sometimes hear people complain about the lack of drums on albums from artists like Ka, Roc Marciano and even The Alchemist, I think its dope and a nice change from the usual rap instrumental. Anyways, the beat is dope and Ka bodies it, as usual. Another banger.

10) I'm Ready - The instrumental on this track just might be the most lighthearted beat on the album, with some earthy drums, ethereal chimes and spacey keyboards. That being said, the beat is still far from being cheerful. Not surprisingly, Ka comes through and murders his verses. This album just doesn't let up.

11) Off The Record - The final track on the album features Ka spitting his usual intricate rhymes while incorporating the titles of classic hip-hop albums into his bars, similar to what GZA did with record labels on his track "Labels." The beat is a dark electric guitar loop with minimal drums, but it's the perfect backdrop for Ka to wreck.
"Came wack, got aimed at with 36 chambers
To the death, that's how we kill static
For reasonable doubt, squeezing out the illmatic
We ready to die, the nights was real
Fam learned how to kill a man in cypress hill"
Absolute fire. Great way to close out the album.

I'm going to rate the album

4.5 / 5

because is easily one of the best albums of the year. I never give albums a classic rating right out of the gate since they need to stand the test of time first, but I have a feeling this one is on its way there. The beats are consistently dope throughout the entire album and Ka bodies each verse while the chess theme and skits tie it all together. That being said, the sparse instrumentals and intricate lyrics are going to be slept on by the masses, which is unfortunate because Ka definitely has skills. Make sure you pick it up directly from Ka's website and support underground hip-hop.


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