Windmills of the Soul

Artist: Kero OneTitle: Windmills of the SoulRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Brolin Winning

An emcee/producer/DJ based in the Bay, Kero One has been making hip-hop since the mid-nineties, but is just now releasing his debut full-length. After a pair of dope 12-inches, "Check The Rhyme" and "Keep It Alive!" plus a successful Japanese tour, he steps out with Windmills of my Soul (Plug Label), a mostly self-produced affair that bubbles over with jazzy breaks, mellow live instrumentation, and intelligent, slice-of-life lyricism.

"In all the Wrong Places" chronicles failed attempts at true romance, with acoustic guitar flourishes and some impressive Fender Rhodes work. "The Cycle Repeats" is an upbeat graffiti anthem, built on rugged snares and swirling flutes, injected with nice cuts from DJ Seoul Control. We also get treated to two outstanding instrumental selections that really showcase Kero's ability behind the boards. The appropriately titled "It's a New Day" is practically guaranteed to put a smile on your face with its shuffling drums, funked-out live sax, and Bob James-style keys, while "Ain't That Somethin?" evokes thoughts of MF DOOM or Count Bass D thanks to the stellar synth loops and weird dialogue samples.

The 13 songs on here deal with real life concerns; showing love for good music, the ladies, family, and friends. There are no fake drug kingpin proclamations, no murderous threats, and no misguided attempts at Dirty South titty bar music. If that's your thing, this album probably won't win you over. However, for heads looking for something slightly less formulaic, Kero One has got what you need. Windmills isn't the kind of album that's gonna incite a riot on the dancefloor, but it's an undeniably nice, highly musical debut that will likely be embraced by b-boys and girls sick of the status quo.