Kahiem Rivera keeps "Grown Man Hours" on new double-sided, extra-vibey single, we call it "cloud-chopper rap"

Kahiem Rivera’s brand new two-sided single “Grown Man Hours”/”Slow Moves” opens with a sandpaper-smooth beat and yeah ok ok sandpaper’s not actually smooth that’s true but it has a way of smoothing out whatever it comes in contact with which is a perfect analogy for Kahiem’s latest music I’d say…

…which is all about “shaking the walls like it’s our form of healing,” a line from “Grown Man Hours,” or in other words, making things rough for a minute (or millennium?) as a way of smoothing things out in the long term which also very much applies to the cinematically-inclined production work on the track by Roarke Menzies—the "Atticus Ross" to Kahiem’s "Trent Reznor" in their collaborative work and yes the Deli got a sneak preview of some upcoming tracks!—a master of hazy/lazy beats and ethereal textures that're at the same time shot through with a sense of tension bubbling under and occasionally bursting through to the surface…

…like check out for instance how “Grown Man Hours” starts off with a full couple minutes of languid, mellowed-out feels lulling the listener into a blissed-out sense of security but then subtly building up layer-by-layer with orchestrated drones and skittering syncopations, the track morphing in parallel with how Kahiem moves from one passing mental state to the next like shapeshifting clouds drifting overhead something like if cloud rap took into account all different types of clouds from the big puffy cumulous ones to turbulent storm clouds…

…which likewise works perfectly in tandem with how K.R. is prone to constantly changing up his flow but in a way that flows seamlessly, almost imperceptibly, from one state to the next moving from laid-back, behind-the-beat inner monologues to rapid-fire, double-time eruptive fulminations with the latter referenced directly in “Grown Man Hours” with lines like “I been on some bullshit / treat a rooftop hang like a bully pulpit / treat an old friend like a free therapist / talk with my hands like damn I’m playing theremin”…

…and we just gotta pause here for a second to point out how unlikely it is that anyone’s ever though to rhyme “therapist” with “theremin” before and what’s more we’re not talking simple “Moon/June” type rhyme schemas either cuz it’s the first two syllables of the two words that not only rhyme (rhyming more than one syllable in a row is known as a “multi” in MC lingo) but also act as straight up homophones (the exact same sounds but spelled differently) wheres the last syllable is a slant rhyme at best, which applies even more to “bullshit” and “pulpit” from the preceding two lines and nevermind the internal slant rhyme of “hands” and “damn”…

…so in other words this cat is a serious lyricist which is not to be taken lightly in these mumble-rap prevailing times and I could easily spent about 20 more paragraphs unpacking line after line but I’ll spare you the overkill suffice to say if you ever happen to wonder to yourself “why do Kahiem’s lines hit the way they do?” it’s got at least something to do with their meticulous construction not to mention how all that playful wordplay and complex rhythmic interplay helps some of the heavier sentiments go down smoothly (or “smooth-lay," getting in the spirit here...) just remember what we said about sandpaper above…

…and speaking of “pulpits” by the time “Grown Man Hours” moves across it’s chilled out opening section and its more orchestrated middle section it culminates in the final section with a burst of signifying ’n’ testifying more akin to a gospel song (with a second mention of a “pulpit” in the lyrics, no less!) if your church's preacher was a skilled speed rapper that is and that’s one cool thing among others about the tracks that Rivera and Menzies have been working on together…

T

…combining the fast-paced chopper-style flows most associated with hardcore hip-hop lyricists like Twista and Tech N9ne with much-less-hardcore associated musical styles like Eno-meets-Clams-Casino ambient vaporware beats or Dilla-esque angular R&B woozily chopped-up beats and hey I bet you thought us music crits only ever used the word “angular” in association with post-punk but hey just like Kahiem I’m trying to mix it up here...

…but back to that gospelesque outro you may wanna have a hankie handy to dab away the sweat formed on your brow from all the hand-waving gesticulating and moved-by-the-spirit dancing you’re likely to do even if it's only a minute or less with Kaheim’s sermon ending on a typically nuanced note where the on-the-surface-of-things aspirational final aphorism—we all wanna be heard / we all wanna be seen and lastly just we all wanna be / we all wanna be—should maybe be taken with a grain of sacramental salt seeing as the lines leading up the refrain mention being on a “high horse [with] low self esteem” not to mention “mirrors and smoke” and “quotes for captions on your post” so in other words it’s complicated…

…which after all is exactly what Signifyinis all about, or at least it is in the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. sense of the word as discussed in this space before with Signifyin’ being an African-American created oral art form based around virtuosic verbal dexterity with a preference for double-edged utterances that deliberately and strategically play with the inherent ambiguity of language and speaking of literary forms it’s also notable that both “Grown Man Hours” and “Slow Moves” have a tripartite structure and while I don’t have space to get too far into “Slow Moves” here (see the interview below for more!) suffice to say the track comes off something like if Barry White and Lil B had a baby…

…with “Slow Moves” having actually started off as three separate ideas/fragments only later fused together and is it any wonder that K.R. is in fact a trained thespian so he knows plenty about three-act structure having just recently returned to his roots in the theater—as Kahiem puts it on his Insta profile he’s a “Rapper + Newly Non-Retired Actor”—and not taking any half measures either in taking on the title role in Being Chaka (written by Tara Amber, Chuk Obasi, and Nalini Sharma) a play that just had a sold-out three-week run at the New Ohio Theater in the heart of the West Village described as “a genre-bending ensemble piece where worlds collide at an elite private school in NYC”…

…or as described by Kahiem himself “one of the most fulfilling things I have done in my adult life” and guess what K.R. had some other things to tell us about too seeing as we were fortunate enough to have a sit down with the man himself outside the highly stylish yet still chill The Ten Bells Bushwick drinking organic wine—or as he puts it at the end of the super-vibey middle section of “Slow Moves” (prod. Vesa Beats) “we drinking natural wine and we faded plenty”—having a lovely, wide-ranging conversation as the clouds thickened overhead from a mostly sunny sky to a smear of grey clouds threatening rain, excerpts of which are appended below for your interest and edification, and for background music (after you listen to the single!) you may wanna put on Kahiem’s recent EP Rap Music To Take A Bath To which is even more vibey and settle in for the ride… (Jason Lee)

**********************************************

OFFICIAL BIO: Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Kahiem Rivera manages to weave a bluesy, world-weary perspective into rap songs about love, sex, race and disappointment. In a constant effort to unpack dealings with mental health and past trauma, he points to a lyric from his song “Woo!” as the mission statement: “I make ‘em dance and depressed at the same time.” Mission accomplished.

Kahiem treats songs as time stamps, with stream of consciousness storytelling that manages to capture his current state of being without sounding like a journal entry. Peppering in clever wordplay over a quilt-like stitch of sonic influences, the music is both highly collaborative and disarmingly intimate. In these tracks, Kahiem gets indie rock vocalists to play footsie with boom bap producers and jazz saxophonists, enforcing his philosophy that community is key and collaboration is everything. His ever expanding live band consists of players from various local NYC projects who share that same vision. 

Ever the multi-hyphenate, Kahiem is also an actor, writer, and Operating Manager at The Sultan Room — a music venue with some of the most diverse programming in New York City. The thread that ties this all together is an ethos that makes sure no interaction feels purely transactional, and that artists feel their work is valuable and important.

“Grown Man Hours” marks a new chapter for Kahiem. A new single, a music video and a b-side that has no business being a b-side, it’s a strong release from an artist showing no signs of stopping. Coming out of a pandemic induced hibernation, Kahiem hinted at things to come with a surprise release of unreleased oldies over the winter. It was an attempt at shedding skin. Sitting on a trove of new material, Kahiem will spend the second half of 2023 dumping out a steady stream of new songs and videos that push the boundaries of what he’s made prior, with all the trademark lyrical honesty and unusual beats he has become known for.

Perhaps Kahiem’s second mission statement can be found in the closing lyric: “We all wanna be heard. We all wanna be seen.” Mission in progress.