Leven Kali is a neo-funk artist that recently popped up on EARMILK’s radar with his sensual banger, “Rather Be Alone,” featuring fellow Los Angeles native Casey Veggies. Recently, the Santa Monica crooner released his debut project, 4102, which boasts features by Topaz Jones, Zack Sekoff, Jojo, and Sydney Jay. In addition, production features the likes of Thunder Cat, Taylor Mackall, Nick Kennerly, and legendary bass player Ricky Rouse. Despite the many producers and artists that contributed to 4102, Kali co-produced each track on the project as well as handled all the top lining himself. That said, Kali being a multi-faceted musician, informs the listener of the equally eclectic nature of his artistry.
4102’s sound could best be defined as a fusion of jazz, hip-hop, soul, r&b, and of course, funk. The sonic essence of the tape is exemplified by the tape’s standout track, “The Wave,” which features New Jersey-based rapper, Topaz Jones. “The Wave” starts out with a synchronized, pulsating, synth accompanied by Kali’s silky, smooth vocals that make for a mesmerizing sequence. Just as Kali’s vocal drop off, the synth mentioned above begins to pulsate faster and faster eventually building up to a crazy verse by Topaz Jones. In his verse, the 23-year old rapper rattles off a barrage of colorful metaphorical quips and allusions all in the span of 32 bars. Kali’s vocals then sweep into action as the trip-hop production transitions into a funkdelic soundscape with a dashing organ melody and a groovy baseline. “The Wave” is not the only track on 4102 that contains a genre changing transition as evident by another stand-out cut on the project, “September.” The track starts out with a sultry, r&b melody by the neo-funk artist that quickly picks up with the help of a funky baseline and keyboard harmony. The bassline and keyboard melody eventually blossoms into a sonically, gorgeous bridge that features the lovely vocals of Sydney Jay. Ultimately, the project reaches its funkadelic pinnacle with the track, "The One," which is one of the best disco-inspired tracks I have heard in recent years.
Now, I know this is quite the statement, but I believe that Leven Kali's 4102 is one of the most refreshing projects to come out in 2015. With his debut project being arguably just as fun and enthralling as Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter has the potential to take the neo-funk sound to new heights and revive funk all together. Let's just hope there is a Jamie XX "The One" remix in the future because that is the only way I see this tape being any better.