Artist: Kenn StarrTitle: Starr StatusRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Andrew Kameka
The Maryland/D.C. metro uh-rea has produced few major Hip-Hop artists. B. Rich repped hard for MD with “Whoa Now”, but not even a Jeffersons sample could move the state on up to the top of the music industry. Kenn Starr is determined to change that with his debut album Starr Status (Halftooth). Out to prove that the place he calls home deserves more hits on Hip-Hops radar, the Maryland-by-way-of-Virginia MC flashes ego-slicing lyrics and soul-pleasing music. It’s very clear that the Old Line State has some heat to offer.
Starr Status should bring more attention to Kenn’s side of the Mid-Atlantic region. The album’s dynamic sound adds to his understated delivery without overpowering him. Producer Oddisee gives “The Same Pt. 2” a beat that teasingly accelerates and crashes back to its normal pace seconds later. Starr’s restrained confidence and rich wordplay excel on the emotional build-up, much like they do on the title track. Easily controlling a sleek, mesmerizing beat, the proud Terrapin gives a glimpse into his hometown by rhyming, A place where they say slim, champ, brother, and young/Joe, bamma and some, hold hammers and guns/Four-fours leave your foes frozen, can’t even run.
Starr attempts in vain to capture that magic and spread it throughout Starr Status. On tracks like “Relentless” and “U Will”, he crosses the thinner than a Hollywood actress line between keeping true to a record’s theme and being repetitive. Though each cut is individually fit, they resemble other songs on the album because of similar vibes and Starr’s uniform cadence. Even with pace-switching contributions from Young Cee on “Nothing But Time” and Aussie beatmaker M-Phazes’ pounding track for “Back At It Again”, Starr Status has a few tiresome moments.
Kenn Starr’s voice sounds arrogant in nature and humble in spirit, an enjoyable diversity that doesn’t always shine through on this project. Even so, Starr Status remains strong thanks to his wit and exceptional delivery. His natural, almost effortless ability to wrap words around any beat placed before him makes this a memorable collection. Despite what you may have seen or heard in Wedding Crashers, Maryland obviously does something well besides just crab cakes and football.