Again though, happenstance. Kay The Aquanaut dropped a new album The Nautical Blue (Hello L.A.), his thirteenth full-length release and fourth completely produced by Maki. This album follows up Earth Station 7 by Kay x Maki released a year ago, but this go-around, there’s something that’s corrupted these two with so much more intensity. There’s obviously a nautical theme running rampantly around the new release, and the fact that this album was inspired by the Jules Verne novel 10000 Leagues Under The Sea, yes it becomes clearer. Alone, the songs separated from one another may not spark such intensity but together, this is a beast of a collection.
The Nautical Blue opens softly, with “Coral Cemetery” as xylophone notes are wrapped in a blanket of the ethereal before that beat drops and Kay dropping his lyrics, melodically concurrently riding that wave of sound with his imagery fitting within the theme. Maki keeps things upbeat but there’s a somber tone from track to track that’s felt deep within the murky waters. But it’s Kay’s delivery here that gets the necessary attention. The tension in his delivery is heard here, much like on “Sunken Freight,” where he doubles up on his vocals for the harmony in the backdrop. “Unkle” is draped in melancholy and it’s obviously juxtaposed against Kay’s vocals over the mechanical beat that’s drawn out here. He comes across with words that are conveyed with semblances of anger that builds and then dissipates. But we eventually get more of it as the release progresses.
There’s more to Kay that meets to eye here, with terse vocal lines filled with a vehemence for corporate consumption & governmental destruction of lives and the planet in general. “The New Flowers Have No Souls” indeed, with “I Wanna Jump In A Lake” expounding on a world of corruption and death of humanity. But everything seems to come to a head with “Saltwater Stone Soup” as he gives a direct ‘fuck you’ to hellish governments bent on destructions with “We’re shutting down everything/I don’t wanna hear criticism of this analysis/I walk around this city with your flag draped on my dick,” and “Fuck this analysis, just know that we are pissed off/Float around the planet, what’s on land just makes me sick.” It’s obviously a “call to arms,” and while Kay offers much hyperbole and truth, he’s stating everything many of us are thinking and all the while keeping to the nautical theme. It’s fucking brilliant.
There’s a lot to be said about The Nautical Bible but even more so for Kay The Aquanaut. Throughout his career as an emcee, his artistry has seen an exponential growth and a force to be reckoned with. This is that moment.
Saskatoon veteran KAY THE AQUANAUT is one of Canada’s most prolific and hardworking independent HipHop artists. With a career spanning 2 decades, his catalogue is thick - with a collection of 19 releases between 1999 and present (11 solo LP’s, 2 collaborative LP’s and 6 EP’s). He was frontman for the legendary Saskatoon band Reform Party, and a member of the critically acclaimed Metropolis Now project. He has collaborated with some of underground HipHop’s most notable names (Ceschi, Sole, Factor Chandelier, Def3). His work has been repped by some of alternative HipHop’s best loved labels (Fake Four, and Fake Four sister company Circle into Square, Side Road Records, Hello L.A. and Phonographique). And he has toured extensively across Canada, Europe and South-East Asia.
In a HipHop scene crowded with style-aping copycats, the Aquanaut brings a refreshing originality and a voice and flow that is distinctly his own. Moving effortlessly between hard-hitting HipHop MC and matured singer/songwriter, the Aquanaut’s body of work has always defied easy categorization. Intelligent, innovative and captivating, his poetry is dense and begs multiple listens; weaving the personal and the introspective, with a solid progressive politics that gets the radical left fist up. .
Released in January 2020, his latest album, the Jules Verne inspired, Maki produced “The Nautical Blue" (Hello L.A./ France) is some of the Aquanaut's most boundary-pushing work to date - rap blurred with psychedelic song-writing, inventive flows and abstracted soundscapes. A journey of an album.