Album Review

K. Sparks 'Seasons Theme' Challenges and Rewards

K. Sparks - Seasons Theme

K. Sparks is a distinct voice, and Hip Hop could always use distinction. The Queens NY native comes from the same environment as 50 Cent, and The Lost Boyz  but judging by his content there's little-to-no link to his hometown's gangster content in his music. Instead, Sparks is a lyricist that tells stories almost reminiscent of Slick Rick, all the while adapting flows to fit each song with double entendres. Sparks rap style is content driven but relatable and his double time flows often resemble Chicago native Twista. If you were to take the conscious tone of Nasir Jones, spiritual awareness and mainstream appeal of Kirk Franklin, yet the aggression to demolish any emcee like 2 pac, the end result would be Sparks. 

Sparks wears the aforementioned hats well, and artistically it's put on full display during Seasons Theme. He's in lyrical form with styles that vary from vintage 90s Hip Hop, uptempo production, and abstract styles reminiscent of J Dilla. Despite not having big name producers or features on Seasons Theme (which are limited to two) Sparks controls the mic in a way that engages. Word play on songs like "Come Again" remind us he needs no assistance "Up in the beat again defeating em I'm reading and rapping like I'm hungry it's bout that time to eat again, saying skadoodle's, dopest and they the brokest and eating oodles of noodles, kibbles and bits to strudels, we the pits they the poodles, hopeless but now I'm focused that maybe the King of rulers, rule us, like inches to millimeters my sense is they can't defeat us for instance but then they greet us". Sparks puts words together fluidly while unleashing his double time flow. To say it's anything less than impressive would be an understatement. 

"Nobody cares about your story until you win, so win," Sparks raps on the melodic jazz-song "Black Caesar", and that's a theme that resurfaces during one of the albums interludes. Through out the album Sparks explores different aspects of his personal life while addressing various problematic symptoms of the present generation. On "#TRENDY" when he looks around, Sparks discusses the self righteous behavior of individuals that believe modern day activism means venting through social media: "I got cops on my block shooting kids in a rush, but let me tell you what we do and let me talk about us, we get mad for a minute then it's back to the grind, and we just do it for the gram and we just do it for the vine, back lash stunting with your pants sagging after this, hash tag fronting we some band wagon activist, until the next scenario they don't take us serious, the verdict is and from the jury is we be delirious". 

Given that K. Sparks can adapt to any beat, at times this is good and bad. The content is consistent yet the production can be all over the place which ultimately can be a point of contention. One minute Sparks is rhyming over a chill laid back jazz influenced beat, and the next he's rapping over abstract production with a Chinese sample rapping deep content "Mainstream rappers at award shows thank Jesus, but christian rappers in their songs barely say Jesus. They want to fit in bad and it's sad par, news flash homie you can't run from who you really are". Personally I would have preferred to hear Sparks rap over production that followed a consistent theme, but then again that's just my personal preference. For the most part, Sparks seems to have a pretty good grip on what works for him. Seasons Theme stands as a powerful testament of a promising voice. Its best moments ("Spring (Theme)", "Jazz Theory", "Fake Is The New Real", "Numbers", "#TRENDY", "Him vs Her (Seasons).") are solid songs, no further commentary necessary.