When I checked my inbox a few days back, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised to find an invitation to review an advance-copy of the Kottonmouth Kings new album- ‘Krown Power’. A chance like this after only a few months actively reviewing albums? Nice work Fam!
The decision to seize the opportunity was immediate—after all, I’ve been a fan of the band since being introduced to their 2000 album ‘High Society’ via the ICP guest spot. Since then, I’ve followed the band’s unique sound—a psychedelic mix of hip-hop and punk rock—throughout their career. I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing them live on a number of occasions, including the Gathering of the Juggalos 2010 and 2012.
So there was no question about it—if I had the chance to review their new album ahead of its release date, I was jumping on the opportunity.
‘Krown Power’ will officially drop on August 28th, marking the band’s 14th studio album (EP’s and compilations bring the total significantly higher), which is a testament to their staying power to say the least. But that’s not all that’s interesting about this album.
Back in 2013, the band split from their long-time record label ‘Suburban Noize’ due to internal conflicts. A devastating challenge for any band, KMK took the split in stride, and went on to found their current label, ‘United Family Music’ in 2014. ‘Krown Power’ will be the band’s debut release on United Family Music, and also their first release since the departure of founding member Johnny Richter, who also left around the time of the Subnoize split.
With so much having changed, it’s only natural to feel some trepidation about what the future holds for this strange and undoubtedly pot-reeking crew of musical misfits. As it turns out, the future is not too dissimilar from the past, and that’s not such a bad thing either!
‘Krown Power’ is laced with all the familiar elements of a KMK release. The lead single ‘Ganja Glow’ would have no doubt sufficed to silence any doubts about the ongoing focus of the band. One thing is beyond question…KMK still love their weed. It’s been a cornerstone of the band since their days as the ‘Humble Gods’, and it remains the most consistent topic on ‘Krown Power’. In fact, they reinforce their heartfelt love of the herb on nearly every song, showing an impressive flexibility of praise that would be the envy of any proper ‘Worship Band’.
This is exhibited most succinctly in the penultimate song of the album, the aptly named ‘Mary Jane’. With echoes of the 2002 song ‘Rest of My Life’, ‘Mary Jane’ is undeniable proof that of all the countless artists who have ever proclaimed their own love to be the only one true and eternal, the love KMK have for the titular Mary Jane has stood the test of time far better than most.
Happily, the rest of the album doesn’t slouch either—despite the influence it was undoubtedly conceived under. Ranging from high-energy party songs like ‘Our City’ and ‘Fill Your Cup’, to the vintage sounding ‘Sink or Swim’, KMK show the sort of consistent diversity their fans have come to expect. ‘Fuck Off’ features the return of long-time collaborators Insane Clown Posse, with an opening verse by Shaggy 2 Dope which is sure to bring a nostalgic smile to the painted faces of any Juggalos listening.
Other standout tracks include ‘Pump up Da Bass’, ‘Don’t Feel Down’, ‘Ganja Glow’, and ‘Good Time Zone’—all but the last of which guest star the incredibly talented Marlon Asher. These tracks–and Marlon’s presence especially—bring a welcome reggae-influence to the album which is so perfectly fitting with KMK’s sound and passions that it seems a match made in reefer-heaven.
The kings would do well to hold onto this influence and make the most of his talents. And they may be—rumours circulate that Asher has been signed to the band’s nascent label ‘United Family Music’, but these remain unconfirmed at the time of press. Fear not however, Brad OH Inc. is currently working on an interview with the Kottonmouth Kings, and we’ll be certain to have more information for you about this promising new contributor once that drops.
At the end of the day, when you put on a KMK record you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting, and that remains true for their first release on ‘United Family Music’. If their storied love of pot has been of fairy-tale persistence, so too has their dedication to their particular craft. The reggae sound on this album works well for a more mature balance to the familiar themes, and results in an album which gives due reverence to the past, while also managing to remain focussed—albeit through blurry, bloodshot eyes—on the future.
-Brad OH Inc.