More than two years in the making and now finally ready for release is Darwin hip hop stalwart KAOTIK‘s beast of an album, ‘The Darwin Evolution‘.
Featuring 16 tracks and several guest artists, ‘The Darwin Evolution‘ is certainly KAOTIK‘s magnum opus. This LP has everything going for it – artful beats, clever rhymes and awesome production – making it an exceptionally listenable work. You can see where that two-plus years of toil has gone. Worth every minute.
“‘The Darwin Evolution’ was a play on words on how much the scene has grown here over the years.”
The Charles Darwin Theory of Evolution reference in the title is obvious and is of course a play on words to reflect not only the origins of his town’s name, but also how Top End hip hop has evolved over the last ten years or so that KAOTIK (aka 27 year-old Kyle Doevendans) has been on the mic, despite its geographical isolation. Of his creation, says KAOTIK:
“‘The Darwin Evolution’ was a play on words on how much the scene has grown here over the years. I had worked with a lot of other local artists in the scene since I was back in high school and wanted to showcase the talent pool and represent the isolation but uniqueness about the Darwin scene. After putting on events, battles etcetera, I wanted to put together an album that would solidify Darwin on the Australian hip hop scene map. Being a battle emcee, a lot of my opponents would use this angle, especially along the lines of the Darwin theory of evolution so I thought I would flip it and turn it into a project which would include production, features and verses from other local acts, as well as contributions from people who have supported the scene.”
It would take a week to write about every track on this LP. Suffice to say that the hard work has paid off for KAOTIK (Spiderhole Records/Northern Versifiers Firm) and his crew in that they have produced thoughtful rhymes that tell stories in very artful ways. It would be sufficient for this album to just be ‘technically’ good in terms of production, style, flow etcetera – however what KAOTIK has brought to these tracks, and what makes them special, is the artfulness of his rhymes and beats and, in particular, the arrangements of them. Inspired sampling abounds, as does some very honest and, in places, ‘colourful’ lyrics. This is not generic Aus hip hop – this is art, artfully done. There is some clever shit in this album and KAOTIK‘s ten-plus years of experience shines through. It is good to see maturity and professionalism work hand in hand to raise the bar in the Darwin scene and make it competitive nation-wide.
There are some standout tracks on ‘The Darwin Evolution‘. ‘Livin’ Within Means‘ is particularly funky and will get a crowd bouncing with a very catchy hook-chorus and the staccato vocals of guest Dan The Underdog lamenting the financial realities of living in the Top End capital city. ‘Autopilot‘ juxtaposes subtle flamenco-style strings and castanets with aggressive vocals, giving it a sort of ‘spaghetti-western-on-speed’ feel that really works. ‘Catch The Molotov‘ (feat Matt Bane) is an angry little fucker of a track with some cluey sampling that works because of its fingernails-on-blackboard feel, not in spite of it. ‘Bigger Boat‘ (feat. Digz, Harvest and DJ Rels) is similarly intentionally discordant to get a dark message across. This track makes you pay attention, especially with its glitched devil-vocals in places. It takes some risk and more than a little skill to make what is essentially a slasher-movie soundtrack work as a hip hop track and KAOTIK has done that here and done it well. This track could be a leitmotif for the evilest-bastard horror movie character you could imagine. Conversely, ‘Struggle Town‘ (feat. Mandy & Lee Lee) is a heartfelt ballad of hope in the face of crushed dreams – with smooth synths, silky backing vocals and an inspired string-synth breakdown with some fine scratching towards the end, this 5m 16s epic will move you.
“My style has always been aggressive with a heavy presence. My stage name being KAOTIK, I have always been energetic and passionate when constructing the rhymes”
We have mentioned the aggressive vocal style of KAOTIK‘s work. Of this, he says:
“My style has always been aggressive with a heavy presence. My stage name being KAOTIK, I have always been energetic and passionate when constructing the rhymes. Having the battle MC background also contributes to this. I guess I have always wanted to have a strong presence which represents my character as well as combining that Top End humour. Basically, I wanted to put together a project which would showcase to the rest of Australia that Darwin has a strong and vibrant scene, which will then hopefully bring more dope acts up this way.”
‘The Darwin Evolution‘ was recorded in Darwin with Dan The Underdog and also in Melbourne with Matt Bane from Spiderhole Records. The album was pared down to 16 tracks from an original 25 to choose from. Of the whole process, KAOTIK says:
“Once we had picked out which tracks we were going to use, I worked with Dan & Matt to get them where they needed to be, which involved a lot of re-recording and fine tuning. Beat-wise, I lent heavily on these two and couldn’t be happier with the outcome. I also got beats of other producers from across Oz that I had accumulated over time. Once we had picked out the sixteen tracks which we were going to focus on for the LP, I spent some time in Melbourne with Matt cleaning up and ensuring everything was on the level we wanted. From there we sent them back through to Dan for the final mixes. Considering we had spent so much time and effort perfecting each track, we decided to get the LP mastered through Ciecmate at Chess Sounds which finalised that crisp sound we were looking for. After some vigorous analysing and fine tuning, we were stoked with the final product.”
As well as Matt Bane and Dan the Underdog, the album also includes production from Nate, DJ Guttertrash, Vampts, Bender, Ofer, Aussieozborn & Tornts. KAOTIK has also produced two absolutely banging videos from this album, for the tracks ‘Struggle Town‘ and ‘Bigger Boat‘ – see the links below.
‘The Darwin Evolution‘ officially drops tomorrow, Friday August 31 however pre-ordered vinyl copies have already sold out. A small quantity of CD’s are available (see links below). Digital sales are available at Amazon, Anghami, Apple Music, MediaNet, Deezer, Instagram/Facebook, Google Play/YouTube, iHeartRadio, ClaroMusica, iTunes, KKBox, Napster, Pandora, Saavn, Spotify & Tidal. See:
Darwin hip hop is in good hands with the likes of KAOTIK, the NVF crew and all those that support the scene. To show your support, head on down to the Mayfair Gallery, 7 Harriet Place, Darwin City from 6.00pm tomorrow Friday August 31st for the official block party launch of ‘The Darwin Evolution‘. The gig will also feature DJ Mangohig, NVF, Anonymous Connect, Deadbeats, Dem Mob, L1, the inimitable Ben Iota and King Klass. Entry is free, all ages.