I know I wasn’t the only one who was devastated by the news last year that Das Racist would no longer be releasing music. Just driving by a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell was almost enough to bring tears to my eyes. Luckily, a fraction of the group lives on through Kool A.D., although of course his solo project is more personally influenced than another Das Racist album would’ve been. His flow pattern is still the same, but shows more of who he is as an artist. And that’s nonsensical, chill and slightly underground.
On his own, A.D.’s sound shows that he was one of the stronger components of Das Racist. But when each beat is catered to his flow, it shows his versatility. The mixtape starts off sounding kind of reminiscent of early ’00s underground hip-hop, before taking a slightly trippy electronic turn on “Tight”, thanks to production by Toro Y Moi (in my opinion, it kind of sounds like Death Grips, but less frightening). The Bay Area native’s heavy west coast influence shows up throughout the album; the Kassa-produced “Look” sounds like a nod to the late Mac Dre and Too $hort, while the “Special Forces” beat would fit in comfortably on a Lil B mixtape. Toro Y Moi makes another production appearance on “The Front”, and the pairing of the two makes an excellent combination; there’s a perfect natural chemistry between the two, and it shows itself in beautiful samples and well-matched lyrics. The other highpoints come thanks to A.D.’s longtime producer Amaze 88 being behind contributing to a handful of tracks, and gets shouted out as his A&R on “Life & Time”. Talib Kweli makes an appearance with Boots Riley on “Hickory”, which has the makings of one of those fun summer-time songs, but thankfully it doesn’t go the Will Smith route. Overall, Word O.K. is simple but intriguing; it shows Kool A.D.’s artistic evolution and showcases his personality in the best possible way.
Despite being a member of Das Racist, Kool A.D. isn’t a stranger to the solo artist path. Word O.K. is a great piece to help him truly establish his identity outside of the group. Of course, he’ll probably always be linked to Das Racist, especially if his Wikipedia page has anything to do with it. This mixtape separates him from his group identity and makes you want to get to know him more as a solo artist. Although I’m sure he doesn’t want to completely detach his name from his Das Racist days - after all, the success from it helped to launch his career and helped mould him into the phenomenally chill rapper he is today. Yet in the music industry, there’s always an evolution of artists, whether solo or as a group. For those trying to establish some sort of solo identity after being in a popular group, you’re held to a different standard. And after a while, you want to be known for your individuality, hard work and whatever else you want your music to say.
I’d say that Kool A.D. was successfully able to break away and show his strengths as a solo artists with this mixtape. It’s as if he was trying to tell the world “I’m Kool A.D., and I shit on other rappers, Das Racist or not.” At the same time, it fills the void that Das Racist left in my heart. It just might be better off this way. Every artist needs room for growth, and this was the right path for him to take to hone his own sound.