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Live Review: Kwame tops off a breakout year with ‘CLOUDS.’

15 December 2018 | 3:49 pm | Michael Stratford Hutch

It’s hard to imagine another Australian artist who has had a more smashing year than KWAME. Milestone performances at BIGSOUND and Splendour In The Grass (as triple j Unearthed’s competition winner for 2018), the release of his second EP Endless Conversations, and collaborations with the likes of CLYPSO, Jaysounds, and Dro Carey—it’s a lot to take in, especially when considering Kwame has only been active for a couple of years. What’s even more impressive is that he's continued to fly above and beyond even this year’s achievements, rounding out 2018 with new single ‘CLOUDS.’ as well as announcing a national headline tour for early 2019.

Premiered on Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio, by Zane Lowe no least, ‘CLOUDS.’ is a sliver of a track, clocking in at just over two minutes long. Despite this brevity, or perhaps in spite of it, Kwame manages to deftly put on show just about everything that sets him apart from the pack. Opening with a crystalline whistle sample reminiscent of birdcall, a throw-away “damn” amongst background studio-chatter hearkens back to the opening of breakout hit “WOW.” Launching straight into chorused vocals atop a simple backing beat, Kwame’s natural voice is soon to join in, switching and speeding up a notch to add pace and momentum.

Kwame proclaims “I’m that diamond in the rough,” as the sub bass drops in, raw and powerful, and it’s clear from this point that he really isn’t fucking around. His flow intersects deliciously with the beat, and there are numerous small details distributed through the track where the production changes to match and accommodate the idiosyncrasies of his flow.

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Kwame shows the full gambit of his abilities here—versatility, attention to detail, playfulness, power. Keyboards introduced during the refrain, Rhodes-like and mellow, soften things up slightly, contrasting well with the rampant energy that he puts forward.

'CLOUDS.' is easily Kwame's best track yet, and a clear indication of high quality work to come. It’s not hard to imagine seeing a packed room yelling “I'm that diamond in the rough” back at him very, very soon.

Photo by Zain Ayub