Review: Kofi the Spiderman – Homesick

There’s something interesting that happens whenever I listen to anything Kofi the Spiderman puts out. It’s as if though I see in my mind a pocket-watch, but blown up as a blueprint; it’s like the watch becomes a schematic and each component can be seen operating both independently and in unison. That’s because Kofi seems to be a Timelord. What I mean by this is, he’s somehow working within the confines of a beat, yet also-and-instead, existing within the space between beats. Time at once stretches out and collapses, seeming to go by quickly and slowly in the same breath. It’s a talent he has where he can make us feel a “traditional” hip-hop beat, yet somehow, the listener also feels entirely removed from the predictable rhythm that we’d anticipate. It’s this sort of jerking between familiar and unfamiliar that I think is a hallmark of his sound; I’d go so far as to call it his calling card. People still know what that means, right? Right?

It’s easy to find examples of this. Indeed, we can fairly say that Kofi the Spiderman’s output in the last two years has been prolific. Just look at the bandcamp; seven (count ‘em!) albums or singles in basically one year? That’s a whole lot of doin’ on his part, and in a short span he’s managed to make a name for himself while presenting a style that is exceptionally unique.

We find more evidence of this in Kofi’s latest release, the 14-track full-length Homesick that just dropped in December 2020. I’ve listened to it a few times and I’ve got some thoughts on it. Stylistically, Kofi’s latest bounces between his signature sound to some more straight-forward hip-hop. There’s some bits in there that almost sound like Bon Iver to me, which I didn’t see coming at all. In terms of signature sound, I’m talking about his skill in existing “within” the beat. There’s always an underlying sense of the rhythm, but it comes across unevenly- almost like trying to maintain a steady pace while walking through molasses. Each step is theoretically the same, but the effort between each step varies wildly, and that’s sort of how time feels in a Kofi track. In between the 1 and the 2, it can feel like one beat, but it can also feel like a whole night has gone by. And I think that’s what I like about this album most; the whole thing feels to me like one particular night- a night that I don’t know I’ve ever actually experienced, yet, somehow, it feels extremely familiar. Listening to it puts me in something of a cinematic head-space; it makes me feel, frankly, like I’m at a house party that’s wound down to the last few people who are a bit too removed from sobriety to leave. The sunrise isn’t too far off, the party is over, but we’re still sitting here skirting the line between intoxicated and hungover. That dark final hour where, as the haze fades away, the reality of your life starts to settle back in, and the lingering issues that have bothered your subconscious start to materialize in the forefront of your thoughts. It’s where you’re sitting at some sticky table in a stranger’s kitchen, chain-smoking, dehydrated, hiding your eyes behind a hoodie and waiting for the inevitable headache to set in. And, I think this image is appropriate, given the album centers heavily on themes of “loss, betrayal, illness and isolation.”

With Homesick, Kofi the Spiderman once again proves that he’s master of a craft that is becoming increasingly his own. I can’t really think of another artist that sounds like him, yet he still carries many of the requisite components of hip-hop. Truthfully I think of him as the progressive rock equivalent of rap music. Everything we’re used to is there, but it’s also above and beyond that baseline, getting into new and uncharted territory and playing with our expectations. Homesick is a strong effort that maintains its place in Kofi’s impressive pantheon of works being put out at a relative blistering pace. You should be checking it out. Right now.

-Mario Boiardi

Featured photo and album artwork also by Kofi the Spiderman