After Ka released sophomore album Grief Pedigree to widespread acclaim in 2012, the DIY emcee/producer/cover artist/music video director gave a number of interviews in which he stated that he works very slowly, dedicating meticulous attention to each aspect of every project. In one especially revealing interview, he proclaims his desire to be “the hip-hop version of Sade” before going on to state, “I craft my music, it takes a long time. I do it and I think it aint right and do it again, and again. I’m looking for perfect rhymes.” Indeed, there’d been four years in between Iron Works and its follow-up, so it came as quite the shock when Ka announced a few months ago via Twitter that his third album, The Night’s Gambit, would arrive July 13, 2013.
One week after the release date, anybody who’s half as serious about listening to music as Ka is about making it still isn’t quite ready to deliver any definitive remarks about the album other than the obvious: the rhymes are ill, and the beats, also ill, evince that Ka’s sample palate has developed along with his skills and confidence as a producer. One still-forming idea I’ll bring early to the discussion relates to the album title itself and the entire chess concept, which runs throughout via dialogue lifted from Searching for Bobby Fischer and Fresh. It could be that this concept is not a concept at all, that it is merely a device tacked on at the last minute to add a final sense of cohesion to the completed work, but knowing how Ka operates, that is not likely the case.
Consider that chess imagery was previously employed by The Wu-Tang Clan, particularly GZA, who dedicated an entire album to the topic with 2005’s Grandmasters and owns the distinction of being the first universally respected MC to publicly cosign Ka, having featured him on “Firehouse” off 2008’s Pro-Tools. On that very track, Ka spits, “Fuck that queen, I’ll show you what a knight and a rook would do.” It seems he’s now making good on that promise.
• Ka: http://brownsvilleka.com