K Num Proves His Resilience With Debut Solo Project
Anyone who was a Zambian Hip Hop enthusiast during the mid 2000’s will be familiar with K Num. He has remained relatively quiet since his emergence bar the odd single release the last couple of years. Even though his name and music may not be instantly familiar with many, K Num is not a novice at all and may well even be credited with playing a part in the blossoming of the Zambian rap culture. K Num’s introduction to the music scene was as one fourth of a rap quartet comprising of himself, Naffy, Double M and recent XYZ signee Camstar. This quartet was called Inferno.
The group didn’t last very long and disbanded quite quickly after the release of their sole mixtape entitled “The Diary”. K Num and his cohorts disappeared into rap obscurity (or so we thought), while Camstar seemed to be the only member carving out a name and career for himself in the Zambian Hip Hop scene. Isaac Lewanika aka K Num decided to prove the old adage that you cannot keep a good man down by releasing his first solo album“Resilience” on the morning of Friday, the 8th of November. The Oxford dictionary defines “resilience” as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” The last time we heard from K Num was when baggy Jeans, oversized t shirts and doo rags were still high end couture for rap enthusiasts. A lot has changed since then, and the question this album seemed to pose was if K Num’s brand of music was “resilient” enough to prosper in this new era.
The album kicks off with “Cow Horn,” a raucous declaration of braggadocio peppered with inserts of the Shaka Zulu theatrical release made famous by the late great Henry Cele. This infusion of audio clips from the film are reminiscent of old Wu Tang records that would infuse audio clips of Kung Fu movies into their songs. The nostalgic effect this has on an old head like me is definitely disarming. With such an energetic setting of tone, the second song eases us back softly. K Num delivers an admirable rendition of the The Isley Brothers classic record, “Work To Do,” which not only sounds like a diary entry of his balancing act between duty and passion but also serves as further indications that K Num is a tried and tested veteran despite this being his first publicly released album.
By the third song, we get to see glimpses of K Num’s introspective side. Fly is a melancholic sound scape that has K Num displaying a sliver of vulnerability with lines like, “Fam comes first, watch your friends turn into enemies/You thought they were your dogs, but you be sharing no pedigree.” Fly also shows flashes of the artist’ s path to claiming resilience with sound bytes like “God bless the child who can hold his own/I was ordained in this ish, so I own the throne.” He continues this theme of introspection and eventual resilience (pun intended) on the title track Resilience, Nangu Fishupe and K Num, the former which he delivers a passionate spoken definition of the term and his album title.
It is evident by the first few songs that K Num is striving to cover a wide range of themes and this is evidenced by the 19 songs that make up the album. In some instances versatility works for K Num, for example when he displays his vivid story telling skills on Suzie and Suzie 2. Or when he declares his admiration for a love interest on Mungeli featuring Mateo and frequent collaborator Double M. However when he attempts to perform a cliche radio single like Composure featuring newcomer R&B crooner Jayque, it sounds like an over reach to fit in, which is unnecessary for an artist already established in his own lane. This perceived lack of focus is also evident in songs like Skibidy Pon Syke and On It which feel more like album fillers and don’t necessarily fall into the general theme of the album.
That aside though, K Num exhibits his strengths when he just outright raps. His smooth delivery is eerily remiscient of the golden New York rap era of the 2000’s when the Dipset crew and shiny suit Mase reigned supreme on rap charts and discussions. He shines brightly on songs like Glass, Enemies and What The People Want which features a scene stealing verse from former Inferno collaborator Naffy when he is just rapping. He is not a rapper with a plethora of punchlines but his smooth delivery and effortless riding of various instrumentals will make him a lot of new fans.
I must admit, at first listen, I wasn’t too sold on the album. However, with time, a lot of the album has grown on me. K Num is an OG in the game, and has re surfaced during the busiest summer in Zambian Hip Hop history but he doesn’t sound as rusty as you would expect. That my dear audience is what you would call Resilience.
By Yombo “JazO” Mutumba
Short Bio :Full time husband and father of two amazing little girls. Banker by day to pay the bills, passionate hip hop enthusiast by night to create the bills
Twitter : @Odyssey529