Fans of rap and hip-hop are met with a multitude of new releases every single day, from up-and-coming and established artists alike. However, every once in a while, an artist will come along who takes a different approach to delivering powerful lyrics over a head-swaying beat.
That’s what SUMiT set out to do when releasing The Knew, an album that distinguishes itself from the sea of music that has been released on the hip-hop/rap scene over the past couple decades. Here’s a look at what sets it apart, and why its distinction makes it so noteworthy.
The Knew, released March 28, 2018
Background About The Debut
SUMiT released the all-original The Knew as his debut album. The initial release came quietly in the otherwise blaring hip-hop scene, but it didn’t take long for media and fans alike to begin noticing it on the market.
Since coming out at the end of March (2018), SUMiT has already received accolades for the wonderfully different and rare take he took to creating the album. In the past week or so, The Knew has already been acclaimed by several publications in the industry, with it currently being praised for being a pioneer in helping to define “the new underground, independent hip-hop movement…”1
One of the first elements that sets it apart is that SUMiT focused on making every aspect of his new album genuine. He used not just new lyrics, not just new rhythms–but completely genuine and original elements to compose the powerful tracks that lie within the album.
He also pulled from the authentic and relatable experiences from his rough youth.
On that note, TunedLoud.com continued with their praise, stating: “The way SUMiT wears his heart on his sleeve is rare … the listener is given a peek into SUMiT’s state of mind. There are moments of hope and maturation, but there is a presence of fear and doubt, as well. When one has dealt with pain and anger during youth, the happiness in growing adulthood is a welcomed change, but it’s frightening to think that it could all collapse at any moment. And that generates an entire new set of emotions, all of which SUMiT forges into various themes and motifs on this set.”1
Listening to The Knew has been described in mesmerizing detail by listeners from all walks of life. Heartfelt, newfound fans who are tuning into the tracks detail their take on the album in very colorful form. The story is very relatable for the majority of hip-hop listeners. At the same time, the underlying moral and the beats can (and should) be heard by all.
“This is a very dark, somber, brooding and visceral album. However, the artist does not use these as marketing gimmicks, instead, there is a point to it. This lends a sense of urgency, purpose and energy to the tracks that is seen throughout.”1
If you turn on the album expecting to hear a modern piece of pop music, you’d be in for a fantastic surprise. The Knew in no way fits into today’s mold set forth by the pop industry. In fact, it is very raw, abrasive, and transparent–just the opposite of what modern-day music listeners hear when they turn on their radio.
The Knew was made to be timeless. It’s fluid and cohesive. It’s honest and it’s something that won’t fade with the trends. The underlying theme of the album, focused on a world without space or time, but one where the economy is sustained by love and hate, rhythm and blues–that’s a theme that will never grow old, and only turn more powerful with age.
SUMiT chose to leave his vocal track entirely unprocessed to help complement the honesty of his lyrics.
The untitled opening track includes a spoken piece from SUMiT that reads:
Give me a space without any time;
a place to supine the mountain in mind.
Outside lie the signs being grounded and fine.
Inside more inclined to doubt I can climb.
Give me an area where
air isn’t there,
the barrier’s blank hysteria’s clear—
smearing the sphere they would swear that we share;
disappear as I paint an exterior stare.
(they’re rarely aware)
Give me a void that can fill
avoided until I’m devoid of a will
Still lack a master of plans cast in a canvas,
demanding a vaster expanse—
can’t ask for a chance…
Taking a minute,
something within and there isn’t a place that’ll fit it
After this short piece sets the tone, the first track, “Madness”, kicks the album off. The song begins with the words:
Welcome to the madness
Fell to sin and sadness
Put me on the bad list
Welcome to the madness
Been to hell and back
Anybody know my address?
No track to follow in any way disappoints listeners, and while they all point to stories of his youth, only a few well-placed lines really hint at the cause of the pain being portrayed by the lyrics. In reality, picking a part just one song would do the album, and the artist, significant injustice.
That’s because every track tells a part of his story. “Madness” showcases struggle while “Take Me As I Really / Glass-Half Empty Memento” puts complex emotions up on display. These moving lyrics are followed by the words of “Nightlife” that recall anxious memories of his childhood, but the album does more than recall.
Through the music, SUMiT reflects upon the experiences of his past, and he is able to find Godly salvation in “White Flag”, which contains some of the most powerful and transparent lyrics of all:
I found my mourning mortifying
More people important dying
They say revenge is sweet
And I’m teetering on the borderline
Of ripping beats to pieces, indecent when I record a rhyme
Til I learned from Jesus what peace is, and it was purifying
‘Cause I was looking for a warning sign
I’d most def say I’m sorta blind
I swore life had a poor design:
‘Just worry ‘bout the money, ignore that we can’t afford the time
Lines from this track like: “God has gave His Son away to change the way that I behave / But still He calls me friend when I try to tell Him I’m sin enslaved” showcase SUMiT’s journey to a broader point-of-view. The song ends with a heartfelt confession: “That I’m only human at last / Desperate need of a Savior / Can’t believe my behavior / But I know we can change it / Time to see what I’m made of / And this anguish I came with / I can’t leave it for later / So please feed me forgiveness / Oh, how sweet is the flavor / God I’m waving a White Flag / ‘Cause I’m giving my life back / I surrender Lord. I’m forever Yours”.
As if this song weren’t strong enough to close SUMiT’s debut, the album ends with “Passenger” as the final track. By taking a stride to “tie up” the story so far, the musical conclusion leaves listeners with a filling experience that creates an appetite requiring multiple servings to properly digest.
In what is the last song of the album, but perhaps just one of many more songs to come in his career, SUMiT’s lyrics demonstrate how, as Ken Bays put it:
“[In this final track], he has come to terms with the uneasy combination of hope and powerlessness that religious faith requires. Or, if he hasn’t come to terms with it, he’s at least admitted how he once ‘Refused a helping hand / And a helpless boy / Becomes a selfish man’.”2
Full Track Listing & Overview
For a debut album, The Knew is incredibly strong and provoking.
The Knew is about telling a real story. One that is rough-around-the-edges with twists and hurdles all along the way. While “Passenger” helps to close the album, it by no means brings an end to what SUMiT has to express.
The Knew proved to be an incredibly strong start to what newfound fans are aniticipating to be a very strong career. As The Ratings Game put it: “SUMiT is one of the most poetic artists in the game right now. Laced with this ability to combine unbreakable flows with eloquent words, SUMiT touches the soul with every bar he delivers, playing that therapeutic figure when it comes to hip hop music.”3
There are eleven tracks that listeners will be cranking up in all. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect when listening to The Knew.
Track 1. Madness: The opening number is dark, scintillating, and candid. SUMiT starts the album off strong, assuring the reader that the tracks to follow will uphold the album’s promise of being real and down-to-earth. This track also gives listeners a taste for his excellent word pairings and choices that are showcased throughout the album.
Track 2. Take Me As I Really / Glass-Half-Empty Memento: In the next track, SUMiT really begins opening up as the lyrics describe his lonely thoughts. The guitar-heavy instrumental sections really put off a feel of authentic soul, and SUMiT puts his focus into lyrics that speak about staying true to himself, no matter how imperfect he may be. One of the most riveting numbers on the album.
Track 3. AllUP: Laid over an excellent hip-hop beat that has an old-school feel to it, SUMiT uses the third track to deliver perhaps one of the most lyrical songs on the entire album. It has a definite feel of relentlessness that is natural and pure.
Track 4. Borrowed Time: This track has such a strong message of self-reflection, best summed up in words from the song itself: “Settled off the pedestal / Never said I was special / Nestled in my vessel / Digested the disrespectful / I’ve had to wrestle with sin on a different level / Now I’m either blessed or I guess the devil’s forgetful”.
Track 5. Be Yourself: A track with a message that shines through strongly thanks to the roughly sung hooks but transposed in a way that remains honest and true to the artist’s tone and the album’s purpose, demonstrated with the words: “This is one the days in my life that I / Gotta decide / Which way to go / And I finally made up my mind that I / I won’t follow / Ima pave the road”.
Track 6. Kyrptonite: This track puts off a real feeling of swagger as the appealing bars showcase how he deals with promiscuous women. The “heart on sleeve” feel is very nicely showcased in this particular track.
Track 7. Nightlife: This track’s lyrics recall some anxious memories of SUMiT’s own childhood. The words only begin to hint at the problems, but his voice, tone, and at times, shakiness in delivering the rough and real lines make this track one of the strongest and most transparent of them all.
Track 8. White Flag: SUMiT highlights how we found Godly salvation in ‘White Flag’, which is perhaps one of the most underrated tracks on the album.
Track 9. Lobotomē: This track’s lyrics really showcase the entire album’s mission statement, which is about putting art-over-commerce and being real with each other. This song then builds to a wonderful crescendo with the words: “Would you believe/ If I said the best ain’t professional/ Talking ’bout definition/ They think the point is a decimal”.
Track 10. Passenger: About as motivational as a track can get, SUMiT lays it all out in the closing song of the album. It’s focused on pumping up underdogs and getting through the rugged world while coming out on top: “After all the bad that I do/even all the s**t I been through/I swear that I’ll forget what I knew/For what’s true”.
All together, this is an album you’ll find yourself listening to again, and again, and again as the years go by. It’s currently available at Spotify and Apple iTunes for those interested in having a listen themselves.
Article contributed by: Sydney Morgan.
- Pre-Release Album Review by music writer, Ken Bays