14KT ‘For My Sanity’ LP (First Word) 5/5

‘For My Sanity’ not only marks the first full-length jazz-inspired project from Michigan’s 14KT but also the first project under his new label home, First Word Records. Typically noted for his sample-heavy hip-hop productions, 14KT’s new project under the umbrella of IAMABEENIE sees a stunning effort sit comfortably alongside other First Word releases by Children of Zeus, Teotima, Yazmin Lacey and Eric Lau.

Venturing as far back as 2008, 14KT unveiled his debut album, ‘The Golden Hour’, which was released to strong reviews and introduced his beats-style project to the world. That album was subsequently followed up by similar-styled projects like ‘Nowalataz’ (2009), ’14KillaTape’ (2011) and ‘Nickel & Dimed’ (2013). Ten years after his debut, there was the release of the single ‘Miss U Too’ – a song originally housed on ‘The Golden Hour’ but now reimagined under a jazz lens and poignantly dedicated to the memory of his father who had since passed. Whether or not it was that song that went on to inspire music that would go on to comprise ‘For My Sanity’, we may never know, but when assessing the fantastic music that we’re presented with here, there does seem to be something of a sense of inevitability about it…

Certainly, hip-hop has been the genre and style of music most synonymous with the name 14KT but it’s also very often that he steps outside of that box – there’s the remix of D’Angelo’s ‘She’s Always In My Hair’ (2015), the alt-soul collaborative project with vocalist Mayer Hawthorne under the name Jaded Incorporated, or his work with R&B singer Aaron Abernathy. Pushing creative boundaries and evolving his own sound through a range of eclectic and diverse projects means the groundwork for ‘For My Sanity’ have been being laid for years.

Spearheaded by the single ‘The Power of Same’ released late last year and featuring vocals by Muhsinah, guitar by Stro Elliot and piano & synthesizer by James Poyser, the track (along with the brilliant Kaidi Tatham remix) beautifully set the tone for the album that would follow. With additional support throughout from Jimetta Rose (‘Fourteen Missing’), Masego (‘Sunday’s Yellow’), Rasheeda Ali (‘An Empty Vessel’) and Mark de Clive-Lowe (‘The Late Bird’), amongst others over the course of these twelve tracks, KT tackles themes of love, faith, hope, as well as social and political angst.

Currently intended to be the first of several jazz-inspired projects from 14KT/IAMABEENIE which is an incredibly exciting premise and while we’ll await those with great anticipation, we have this sublime effort to tide us over in the meantime.

Imran Mirza