Review: 88 Keys – The Death of Adam
by Winston "Stone" Ford
The Death of Adam
88 Keys is one of those underground producers who, for the most part, never was a household name. The producer of such artists as A Tribe Called Quest, Consequence and The Pharcyde has been around for a hot minute, but after what seems like years behind the boards, Keys is following the footsteps of other producer-turned-rappers like Kanye West in throwing his hat in the MC game. It’s not surprising that West served as executive producer and mentor to 88 during the development of the album.
The album, The Death of Adam, focuses on a concept that seem to be the only thing I can connect with in hip-hop nowadays–women. As someone who can only clarify his relationships with women as unsuccessful at best, I tend to gravitate toward projects like this one. The concept revolves around the “death” of 88’s friend Adam (as well as a reference to the Biblical Adam and Eve), who’s life ends because of his constant obsession with “the punani,” as Keys describes it. The Death of Adam goes through the Punani Development Life Cycle, from starting out in the “friend zone,” to STDs to eventual unwanted fatherhood. Even though the subject matter is a downer, Key’s cheeky verses and the upbeat instrumentals give the whole album a comical vibe. In some circles, The Death Of… has been described as hip-hop’s version of the Judd Apartow film Knocked Up.
And that style is what prevents this album from falling into obscurity. Even though 88 Keys gets props for the concept, songs about love, sex, and the like are nothing new, and his MC credentials are a little suspect. Production wise, however, Keys and West takes some calculated risks, like getting alternative band Shitake Monkey on “The Friends Zone,” and recruiting Couch Sessions fave Jack Davey on “Dirty Peaches,” the latter seems built around Jack’s sultry voice. Even though there is not a bad song on the The Death Of…, and tracks like “M.I.L.F.,” “Stay Up,” and “Morning Wood,” are exceptional, I can’t seem to see what is so revolutionary about this album. People are praising 88 Keys as the next Kanye, and I’m not seeing it yet. I’m not saying that Keys produced a bad album–its still one of the top albums of the year–I just think my expectations were a tad higher than they should have been. What do y’all think?