Hip hop at its highest ambition is a narrative of urban life and a tribute to the struggles that drapes life in the inner city. It is to that story that K. SPARKS –a native of Queens, New York - contributes with his 2017 offering, ‘Urban Couture’. This is an album that touts the intimacy of deep thought, and the examination of how those who are the products of urban communities wear their experience. It’s a challenging listen that is indeed custom fit for those familiar with the urban experience, but that doesn’t hold back its wider appeal.
The main thrust of ‘Urban Couture’ is the grounding in the personal life of K. SPARKS. This can be heard most prominently in ‘Strip 4 Me’ which does as the title suggest in that it strips away the layers that steal away the intimacy of one’s vulnerability from public view. Personal tales aside, K. SPARKS possesses an incredibly sharp lyrical skill, a savvy mind and an awareness that lends him uniquely able to opine on the state of current state of minority life in America’s inner cities. In ‘Make America Fake Again’ he comments on the fragility of minority perspective with the line, “You can’t tell me how the stock markets doing, yet you know what happened last night on the BET Awards or the latest Jordan shoe…” Powerful commentary litters ‘Urban Couture’ and is one of its crown jewels.
A note has to be made about the exceptional musicality present in this album. If a montage sequence featuring the streets of the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, Jamaica Queens’ Rockaway Boulevard, or Bedford-Stuyvesant project buildings in Brooklyn were a made to be a short-film, producer ES-K would provide the soundtrack with the albums jazzy and earthy tones. As if not evident enough in album opener ‘Flipside’, the album contains enough brilliant instrumentation to easily fill up a year’s worth of performance bills at the Blue Note.
‘Urban Couture’ is an ambitious effort that was executed to near perfection. Though it may lend itself to a niche audience, the energy K. SPARKS brings to his rhymes is anything but a turn off and should endear itself to a sympathetic ear. The album is also incredibly fluid. Even on shuffle, each song flows effortlessly into one another becoming a near flawless musical mosaic. This album should age line a fine wine and prove to be a cornerstone of a hip hop career with infinite potential and a bright future.
K. Sparks – Urban Couture