Kool Savas - KKS (Review)

Martin_Canine KOOL SAVAS

Lyrical madness within the limbo of ambitions


Kool Savas holds the title “King of Rap” in Germany, a name that in the mid-2010s was threatened to be claimed by Kollegah, who by now suffers from a similar fate as Savas: the one of not being quite up to date. German hip hop’s radical transition from technical hardcore battlerap to poppy, light Afrotrap jams went so fast that it left almost all of the big names in an artistic limbo, not knowing which direction to head to. One day, they were on top of the game, and suddenly, they were out - and we’re not talking about one hit wonders here, but artists who dominated the scene throughout the decade. Rappers who were on the border of trap could easily still be regarded as fresh, but those who relied on boom bap beats, orchestra samples and hard hitting punchlines, which was still seen as dope in 2017, now seemed to be clueless how to move on and still be considered hot. Much like Bushido aka the Godfather of German hip hop, Kool Savas’ position is more grateful than those of most due to his role of being one of the genre’s first innovators. No matter how lackluster his attempts at creating a new fresh sound might be, his status will remain due to his legacy of pop culturally important music that was crucial to the genre’s development.

KKS neither gives in to the current Afrotrap and trap hypes nor does it sound entirely oldschool, instead it features a very much pop oriented sound that heavily relies on sung choruses like those we know from Recovery era Eminem - most of which are fortunately performed by guest vocalists. Several of the songs additionally feature beats that can be only remotely identified as German hip hop, and dwell very much into soft pop territory - not so much the RnB side of it that’s hip hop inspired anyways, as overly theatrical, motivational string-and-piano instrumentals that could originate from an uplifting ad. It sometimes works, but more often than not are the choruses on the border of the cheesy, and contradict with the rapid, furious flow and show-off vocabulary of the raps. The album also starts with the musical low point, KDR, which features one of the clumsier uses of the autotune effect and does not give an all too good first impression. It’s the only true misstep however, as no other song crosses the line of the truly bad. It only lacks an exciting and coherent vision sometimes, with songs like Deine Mutter and Wasser reichen being good examples of solid pop rap tunes that make the time fly by but won’t make you come back for more.

Savas’ lyrical madness has increased over the years, his German having become so advanced and quick witted that he continuously spits out unpredictable wordings and phrases, including a clever verse which is subtly built on double entendres revolving around money. Naturally, he is best when he can fully give in to the old fashioned hip hop vibe and simply show his ability to paint imaginative pictures with his aesthetic language performed in his trademark breathless flow. In that sense, the epic 7 minute Universum / Hawkings with its straightforward street oriented beat is a wonderful show of pure rap skill by all artists heard on it (with scene stealing verses by Cr7z who spits out a whole dictionary). Ende der Vernunft and Essah ist zurück are very dope too, also containing insanely memorable hooks that work well within the hip hop context, and feature the MC in his natural and comfortable habitat in the main parts. It’s this feeling of constantly out-doing the other rappers out there, not as much with rhyme schemes or punchlines but with his intellectual capability of writing lyrics that carries all of the tunes regardless of its topic and beat. And that’s what makes it so fun to listen to in the end.

All in all, KKS is a nice addition to Savas’ catalogue and will keep his fans entertained, although it never develops the potential of becoming a classic record. While it’s of course another fine show of his superb non-stop flow and top notch lyricism, the package has already been delivered with much more spirit - even on other rather poppy albums, like the masterful Aura. It’s satisfying, but with the exception of its midsection, the tape never has enough ambition and character to become an outstanding work of German hip hop.