Released on the first day of spring, ‘Easygrowing’ is a peak at Kinrose’s budding MC potential and an ode to the season of rebirth and growth.
Stream: ‘easygrowing’ – Kinrose
It’s springtime, and everyone in Washington, DC knows what that means. It’s time to prepare for the most animated period of the year, when hundreds of thousands of visitors will flock into town for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Since it’s been three long years since we’ve gotten to enjoy that experience to the fullest, you can count on that period being especially vibrant this time around; everyone is eager to make up for lost time.
Across the Anacostia River, only a few mile aways from all of that cherry blossom commotion, a 24-year-old native of Prince George’s County will be celebrating the springtime in his own, more subdued manner: by channeling the feelings that this season inspires into a new batch of hip-hop songs.
Kinrose, an emerging rapper from DC’s Maryland suburbs, got things going last year with his first few official single releases. Among these were “green line” — named for the metro line that takes riders out to his neck of the woods in PG County — “chopped,” and “profile.” The latter of those is now one of five tracks included on his brand new debut EP, Easygrowing, released on March 21st — not coincidentally, the first day of spring. In the artist’s own words, the record is specifically designed to evoke the themes of growth and renewal that springtime represents, particularly by telling his own story as a young man hoping to expand upon his own creative freedom and identity.
“I had a lot of fun writing this EP,” Kinrose says. “Though it’s upbeat and quirky at times, I think themes of work, fear and death tie into almost every song on the project. Those reoccurring themes weigh on my mind often but holding on to the joyful moments along the way keep me grounded and optimistic. “
Those promised moments of joy emerge immediately in the album opener, on which the rapper gleefully croons that, “I don’t wanna be alert and convert, I’d rather get aloooooofff on the roof.” It’s a song inspired by daydreaming, which, as Lupe Fiasco once evoked, is one of the most springtime-oriented activities of them all. In his own take on the matter, Kinrose describes how his absent-mindedness prevails wherever he may go (“I’m at work, I’m at school, I’m commuting, thinking about how I could be enjoying my time in a better way,” he comments on the song’s narrative arc).
Meanwhile, the album’s lone guest rapper, another young MC named unwanted, describes how being in such a mental state inevitably allows his thoughts to wander towards the ladies. “You seem like a lesson to know,” he confides to the apple of his eye. “I wanna see how our fantasies grow.”
Following “aloof on the roof,” Kinrose elaborates on his wild-‘n-free personality on the EP’s four remaining songs. “Too broke to be an economist, so I’m out here, autonomous,” he raps on “sowing.” And then, “Used to shed a drop, I don’t shed a drop now. I just tear it up when I feel down.” The song’s accompanying music video hammers home the idea that this artist, like the roses he clutches in his hands, is fully ready to flower and prosper— especially now that springtime is upon us.
Roses are also the flower of love, a topic that gets coverage on the single “profile.” It alludes to J. Cole’s style with its lighthearted blend of singing and rapping; that homage is made especially clear in the song’s music video, which featured some imagery distinctly lifted from 2014 Forest Hills Drive. The track itself is conceived as “a DMV love story;” as Kinrose explains, “When I wrote this song, I was transported to the moment I saw my partner for the first time.”
It’s a sweet song, indeed. But let’s not forget, Kinrose is also intent on channeling “themes of work, fear and death” into his music.
Those topics come forth most vividly on Easygrowing, which touches on some of the glummer elements of being a young adult, an experience that had been portrayed as much more euphoric elsewhere on the album. “It’s a song for the days when you feel like you’re on autopilot and just want to make it home safe. not addressing the looming fear of death or unearthing buried trauma but pushing through regardless.”
The next track and album closer, “cloudy air,” shares some of Easygrowing‘s somberness, especially with the dim piano playing that permeates the beat. But the burst of energetic MC’ing that kicks in midway through ultimately communicates that this is a young soul with plenty of life in him yet, and with “hits, no misses, on my wish list.” The track culminates with some upbeat saxophone playing, which provides the double-service of connecting the album to the DMV — a region with a century-plus tradition of jazz music— and proving that liveliness is ultimately the dominant emotion in this young man’s life.
All told, if Easygrowing is meant to embody the spring, then it’ll be marvelous to watch Kinrose move on through the summer and fall, and experience all of the maturity and growth that those seasons represent.
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? © Maliyah Grant
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