Dubbed as the styles Spoken Word and Conscious under the genre Hip Hop, Kae Tempest presented their debut LP under their they/them pronouns in April of 2022.
I have here that album The Line is a Curve as a limited edition pressing on Orange Transparent vinyl. Let’s take a look inside. Kae is a poet, spoken word performer, novelist, and playwright from the Westminster area of London.
Let’s take a look inside their new LP.
Unboxing The Line is a Curve
First, I love how Kae’s presence on the cover is slightly out of focus, and that their name and album title are in orange. That paired with the orange hype sticker initiate the tie-in with the orange transparent vinyl. This continues on the back with the track list in the center and the credits along the bottom.
Inside we have a double-sided lyric sheet, again printed in orange.
Finally, and I really love this: the inner sleeve is orange with white credits printed in the outline of Kae’s presence on the cover. Their left side on one side and right side on the other.
The wax itself is a transparent orange. Transparent meaning you can see detail of what’s behind it as light passes through it. I love how it all works together, the art, the vinyl, the packaging.
Alright, now the content itself.
Review: The Line is a Curve
I became a quick fan of “More Pressure,” the second to last song on the album. But it wasn’t until more recently that the full impact of The Line is a Curve hit me. Tempest flirts with rapping, the delivery being a more conscious, spoken word performance. It’s slam poetry, or even beat poetry, for the 21st century.
Co-writer and co-producer Dan Carey’s musicianship is quite welcome, and his beats and synths work hand-in-hand with Tempest’s rapping style and the depth and meaning within their words. This is not an album for the faint of heart — within it, you’ll find power, contemplation, angst, overcoming. The topics they explore are monumental: generational trauma, making adversarial peace, an a full range of emotions.
At times it feels precise and surgical, yet the expanse of topics and emotional realms it covers couldn’t be further from the singular.
Tempest is joined by a number of other artists throughout the album, and on “More Pressure” it’s Kevin Abstract. Brian Chatten of Fontaines D.C. has a spotlight in “I Saw Light” and Confucius MC joins Tempest on “Smoking” to name a few. The album flirts with hip hop, but has intriguing beats.
Here’s Kae’s video for “I Saw Light”
As noted, this is Tempest’s first album since they came out as non-binary. They’ve talked about the album as being a letting go of anxiety and self-doubt. I feel you can hear that — there’s an element of making peace with yourself that seems to be an underlying current, either explicit, implicit, or even just some shit I made up in my head that seems to be something I hear in some of the songs on The Line is a Curve.
Either way, this album is fucking brilliant.
You can find the album on Amazon.