Ka is a fascinating figure. The Brooklyn rapper and producer is a veteran of the New York rap underground of the ’90s, but he’s taken himself out of the game. These days, he’s a fire chief in New York, and he releases moody, meditative rap albums on his own, whenever the spirit moves him. Usually, that means producing all his own music, releasing it himself, directing all his own videos, and even making a tradition of standing out on the sidewalk on release day, selling vinyl copies of his albums hand-to-hand. Every once in a while, though, he teams up with someone. In 2015, Ka and the producer Preservation formed a duo called Dr. Yen Lo, releasing an album, Days With Dr. Yen Lo, that was loosely organized around The Manchurian Candidate. And now, Ka and the Los Angeles producer Animoss are Hermit And The Recluse, and they’ve just released their own debut album Orpheus Vs. The Sirens.
Every Ka album is a concept album of one kind or another; his last solo effort, 2016’s Honor Killed the Samurai, was all about the samurai code of bushido. As the title implies, Orpheus Vs. The Sirens finds Ka fixated on Greek mythology — particularly on the story of Orpheus, the hero and musician who solved the riddle of the Sphinx and travelled all the way to Hades but still lost the woman he loved.
Animoss, who has worked with people like Roc Marciano and Joey Bada$$, makes a great partner for Ka. His tracks are woozy and diffuse, full of guitar and harp, often missing drums entirely. That’s how Ka likes it. These tracks give him plenty of room to operate, and both his presence and his words give us plenty to think about. Ka released the album on Saturday and did his usual selling-on-the-street ritual. And below, you can stream the album and watch director Alina Popescu’s animated video for “Sirens.”
Orpheus Vs. The Sirens is out now, and you can buy it directly from Ka here.