Kestine – Reflection
Cork rapper Kestine reflects on both himself and the BLM movement on stunning new Ep.
Kestine is a man who was destined to make music. Growing he was obsessed with megastars like Michael Jackson and the sounds of Reggae, Soul and Hip Hop. it wasn’t long before Kestine created his own musical personality. This fascination with music would even lead to squabbles in the schoolyard, drawing the ire of other kids who didn’t understand this great love.
Undeterred, Kestine dedicated himself to following in the footsteps of his idols. He joined the choir, learned piano, and discovered he had a particular flair for rap. Kestines music is infused with themes of faith, family and his own experiences of being a Black Irish man in a time of great worldwide change. Since 2017, this dedicated artist has released several well-received singles and has developed a reputation as an accomplished writer and performer.
Now Kestine, a microbiologist by trade, has teamed up with Outsider YP to bring us his brilliant new EP ‘Reflection. This skilled and eloquent MC weaves an intimate and engaging tale through a series of unapologetically personal songs that give us a peek at the man behind the music. He also takes this opportunity to speak about the vital importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, using his platform to educate as well as entertain.
Luscious Saxophone opens up the Eps first full track ‘U.N.I.T.Y’, establishing a smooth R&B vibe. Kestines phrasing and lyrical flow is strong, proud, and purposeful. There is a sense of urgency and rebellious vitality in the way he describes both the liberties being taken at the expense of his people and the vitally important fight to be heard above the voice of hate. Kestines critical eye is all-encompassing as he not only analyses outside forces, but also turns the lens to scan internally “honestly some of our people are hypocrites, we scream Black Lives Matter yet do we as black people cherish other black people.”
The ambient pleasantness of ‘U.N.I.T.Y’ is replaced by rousing aggression and a primal rage on ‘Preachers Son’. The sheer conviction being communicated through this track is breathtaking. Kestine pulls no punches here, nor should he. This is a powerful message delivered by a powerful performer. The production on this track is world-class, with an instrumental that is just as assertive as Kestines words. The sonic flourishes that intermingle with the beat are positively bristling with character, and the pace is brisk and fervent.
‘Melanie’s backing track recalls ‘Inner City Blues’ by Marvin Gaye as Kestine unleashes a sick flow as he recounts the story of a girl who has been through great trauma. It’s a fantastically visceral piece of music where the artist eloquently disassembles another instance where society has failed. There is great dept to Kestines words, though this is one woman’s story you get the feeling that there is allegorical meaning hidden in the lyrics. This man is clearly a deep and thoughtful writer.
As an intro to the Eps final song, Kestine treats us to a recording of his Mother singing a traditional song. It’s a touching moment that further illustrates to the listener the extent that Kestine is opening up to us. This man is literally inviting us into his home, and the track that follows is as personal a song that you are likely to hear. On ‘Dear Diary’ Kestine describes his life so far in diligent poetic detail. Success, failure, hope and fear are all touched on here, along with his own lifelong desire to be “good enough”. It’s an engaging and engrossing song, and the perfect way to end the record.
With ‘Reflection’, Kestine has created perhaps the most important Irish record of the year. One that should really be heard by everyone on this island of ours who thinks that inequality is something that happens elsewhere. These songs not only capture what it means to be connected to a vital worldwide movement, but they also give an intimate portrait of a supremely talented musician and an authentic snapshot of the artists’ life.
At the start of this record Kestine is asked his purpose, to which he responds “To be King”. If ‘Reflection’ is anything to go by, someone better start polishing up the crown.