Jabari Gibbons, Professionally known as Roc Kartel is a songwriter, hip-hop and pop artist currently residing in Los Angeles. The Prince George’s County Maryland native is several projects deep in the music industry, and became popular in his native Region (DMV) for his premier singles such as “Panama”, “Real Woman” and “Energy”. The latter two singles can now be found on Kartel’s 5 track EP, “Bury The Hatchet”. The mix of smooth flowing raps and gritty impassioned vocals makes each and every song on this album a winner. The verses, the choruses, the instrumentals, every aspect of each song is overwhelmingly satisfying to the ears. Where Roc Kartel shines is when he opens up past the glossy veneer of any rap life, and wails about the day issues of love and life. It’s where he feels at home, free to spread his wings and truly create the music that flows naturally out of him. On this record, Kartel isn’t following the crowd. He wants to stand out.
There are blends of pop trends throughout each track on “Bury The Hatchet”. There’s a lot of creativity on the record along to dancing synths and trap beats making the production sound very interesting. Kartel takes risks and thinks outside the box with his art.
His music is universal where it could slide into a diverse set of playlists. Throughout the record, there are a lot of great and interesting hooks to capture the listener’s attention. Throughout the entire collection, the songs never repeat themselves thematically or sonically, every track could be a potential single, with some being unconventional surprises.
Right from the opening track, “Energy”, the EP imbues most of the tropes in contemporary swag rap music with an omnipresent breeziness that feels endemic to a West Coast life. The song immediately points to the predominant stylistic thrust of the music on “Bury The Hatchet”, with its ecstatic, gently fibrillating tones.
“You Trippin” is the kind of sugary auto-tuned glaze whose appeal is hard to repress once you’ve heard it. Roc Kartel spools out a gruff sounding melodic licks with increasingly insistent rhymes, set over gossamer synth trimmings and forward moving percussion.
As expected, Roc Kartel’s fantastic vocals are a highlight of standouts “More Than Ever” and “Real Woman”, blending his trademark throaty vibrato, belted choruses and sung-rap flows to great effect. Even his background vocals are excellent, particularly on the latter track, where he shows off an underutilized vocal range and impressive melodic grit.
In fact the keen ear for melody Kartel incorporates to the entirety of this EP is so enthralling that it’s hard not to get lost in it.
Kartel feels perfectly placed within his songs, and meshes well with his knack for catchy beats. It’s when he steers off the beaten track, like on the rock-tinged “Paul”, that Roc Kartel showcases his artistic range best. Both the man and the music flow so effortlessly as the haze from the piano-driven beat and the vocals slowly begin to take over.
What’s most important about “Bury The Hatchet”, however, is that it exhibits an artist with a sound so catchy yet varied, but still with plenty of room to grow.