You know things are about to get impressive when a track merely titled Intro is better than the vast majority of hip hop releases on the radar in recent months.
Koal Plae takes no time to hit with impact, not utilizing volume or quirks to get ahead, but clearly and faultlessly riding on the strength of his own lyricism and ability to smartly craft his bars. This, combined with a mellow and dreamlike, professionally finished soundscape, helps kick off the Tourist EP in a brilliantly immersive manner.
As things progress, the musical aspects of the project lean back and forth between the hip hop and RnB tones of the nineties, and a much more contemporary sound that feeds well into the styles of today. Whatever the instrumentation does, Plae’s vocal works tirelessly alongside of it.
Consider Hold for a Minute, featuring a delicate soundscape, and a sublime and soulful vocal hook from Payton Sianna – Plae slots into this process with ease, offering bars that inject energy and unwavering yet subtle swagger into the mix. His long-form verses entertain and captivate, presenting genuinely new ways of addressing common topics. Balancing personal story-telling with a more vague and widely accessible approach, Plae is absolutely at the top of his game here.
All Costs redirects things really well. Leading with a touch of darkness and light intertwined, a spacious backdrop, and a sense of classic hip hop in the varied flow and the hints of additional vocals and details scattered around the outskirts, the track is immense – rhythmically on point and consistently gripping as the lyrics pour through. If the opening two tracks were the draw, the mainstream appeal, this is the game-changer. This is the artist finding his flow and reveling in it. A definite highlight, inspiring and anthem-like, intelligently crafted, addictive – well worth a few repeat plays in a row just to catch every bar.
Sans Defeat follows on well, feeling similar in mood but again contrasting fast-paced bars with a dreamlike, blissfully ambient backdrop – the quiet haunt of that vocal melody in the distance is a powerful touch alongside Koal’s unstoppable and seemingly breathless outpouring.
Keeping things eclectic towards the end, Here We Go leads with a European acoustic guitar vibe and a crisp, up-front beat. The vocal back and forth adds colour and dynamic that works hard to keep you involved throughout. Young DA and Koal unite flawlessly here. Possibly another highlight for its fusion of genres and the sheer confidence and character on display.
Bringing the EP to a deeply thoughtful finish is the song Last Time. It’s a phrase we all use, perhaps too often, and Koal addresses this from the offset then continues to delve into the reality of what it means on this occasion. Brilliant sound design, intense bars, compelling story-telling – the honesty and self-reflection is mighty. A strong way to end the project, these moments allow the listener genuine insight and intimacy regarding the artist – you feel like you’ve been allowed a little closer, like nothing’s being kept from you. A personal favourite and another addictive, easy to repeat moment of anthem-like, engrossing escapism.
Absolutely ahead of the competition in every way right now. Fast-paced yet faultless, considerate lyricism, intense passion and unquestionable professionalism. A definite recommend.