A perpetual student of “Universe University,” Maryland-born and based artist, rapper, poet, and thinker KAMAUU opens himself to being a vessel of service. The call to serve is the core engine driving both his deep introspection and his creativity.
“We’re all meant to serve: even breathing is an act of service, ecosystem wise,” he says. “There’s a certain level of bliss we give ourselves access to when we contribute to something bigger. My point is not necessarily to be a musician, but to serve. However, I can do so through music,” he smiles.
He credits a continually inspiring relationship with his parents as one of his foundations. “My parents are very powerful, beautiful, and brilliant people,” he states. “Your strength is in your design. The strength of a hammer is in its function. [Sometimes] we forget how much community and collectivity is actually a part of our design. “In order to observe things more accurately, you have to be grounded. And so individuality and collectivity work together in that way.”
After years of quietly honing a singular style, he made his proper debut with a guest appearance on “QUEEN” from No Wyld’s critically acclaimed 2015 Ascension EP. His first solo single “Jusfayu” generated over 21.8M global streams as he lent “The Icarus” to The Birth of a Nation: The Inspired By Album. He reteamed with No Wyld on Nomads and dropped his own A Gorgeous Fortune EP during 2016. A year later, he unleashed his full-length debut, TheKAMAUU-CASSETTE: ŭRTH GōLD, and continued to stoke buzz after signing with Atlantic Records in 2015. And in 2019, he carefully assembled what would become his third offering for the label, the “TheKAMAUU-CASSETTE: MíXD GRēēNS” before later unleashing a string of singles including “MANGO” which garnered over 17M views on YouTube alone.
Lacuna and The House of Mirrors, KAMAUU’s eagerly awaited debut album, is a sonic documentation chronicling a series of reflections & introspections. From the Latin “lacus” for ‘lake’ or ‘pool’, the word “lacuna” means an unfilled space or gap. Personifying that internal gap as an allegorical character for the self, he expertly takes listeners through a place filled with mirrors of varying emotional and spiritual reflections.
“We’re chronic fillers,” he explains. “Insatiable fillers. We need to talk. We need to hear. We need to eat. We need to consume. We need to be stimulated. And we don’t have [many] lacunas; because of that we develop an unintentional lacuna, which is dangerous. I ended up developing a hunger for the things that I actually need. And that’s the unintentional lacuna.”
He continues the extended metaphor by describing his explorations as a perceived dissonance during times of inner quiet as many rooms in the house of self: intellect, emotions, social connectivity, desires, integrity, etc. He emphasizes that “putting mirrors up in all of those aspects (rooms) of yourself and finding where the gaps (lacunas) are between where you are and where is the most optimal and most healthy” and being honest with oneself is the primary process.
“flings,” KAMAUU’s first released single, firmly establishes him as an artist all on his own. With lyrical clarity and intoxicating vocals he croons “All the flings, like leaves in the wind/Tis a thing that I couldn’t retire/it was easy to flee from them/it was me that I couldn’t retire.” A seamless, high-energy blend of R&B, funk, and hip-hop produced by DJ FU with co-production from Mick Schultz, “flings” is a distinctive reflection on pain, escapism, addiction, and the degradation of spiritual health. “It’s about me escaping my stillness and silence,” he goes on. “My construction, and using constructive tools destructively: to fly is to fall when the sky's the floor. It’s easier to manipulate us when we’re taught and accept backward things and principles.”
Throughout the album, eclectic and uncategorizable production serves as the vehicle for a clear and accessible message. Jaunty triplet cadences on the hook of “antidote”— “Yes I got the an-ti-dote” — bolsters a learned confidence. Featuring return collaborator Siimbiie Lakew and BRIT-nominated artist Kojey Radical, this mirror shows a reflection on the importance of spiritual wealth. Soul gold.
Nimble and dextrous rhyme schemes display his prowess as a poet in “don’t play with my money,” featuring Grammy nominated rapper Tobe Nwigwe. An introspection about vampires and the desire to protect the fruits of sweat and blood, KAMAUU drives home that everything he does is not self-serving–“every man is a county/I have people counting on me” – resulting in the request for his money, his art, and his heart not to be played with.
In the end, KAMAUU’s commitment to honesty in service will undoubtedly encourage listeners for a long time to come.
“Make time and make space to honestly observe yourself without interruption,” he leaves off. “So that you know where you are and what you’re working with. So that you can actually get to where you say you want to go. The more I see myself, the more I can understand myself. The more I understand myself, the more I can use myself to make progress.”
By Mercy Kassa
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