In our modern musical climate, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the pseudo-personas of the big name artists and celebrities that flood our timelines; we often get so focused on them that we forget about our own hometown heroes. Frequently, the local underground scene is going to provide music and art that reflects a genuine personality as opposed to an inflated ego. K1NG ELJAY encompasses this idea potentially more than any other rapper in Birmingham.
A rapper, producer, writer, podcaster, YouTube gamer, and overall content creator, K1NG ELJAY has been going at it since the early ‘10s as the head of the RDFND Network. His initial work focused on parody before creating an evil alter-ego in CLVRFLD for a set of EPs that were eventually repackaged as a full-length. CLVRFLD LP: Director’s Cut dropped in 2016, and it saw ELJAY take a much more personal and dark route than the parodies. ELJAY’s honesty allows the listener to be placed in ELJAY’s shoes, hearing the frustration and sorrow spiral; the album leaves the listener relieved by ending with ELJAY pulling himself out of his depression.
In 2017, ELJAY kept himself busy, kicking off the year by releasing the joint album The Process with fellow RDFND member, D Gut. This album was significantly more light-hearted than CLVRFLD, both in production style and lyrical content. Many of the songs are packed full of video game references, and a couple even sample video games for their instrumentals. “Over Here,” “No One’s Watching,” and “The Worst Ever” showcase the sarcastic and goofy side of ELJAY (and D Gut), which gives the listener a nice glimpse into the personalities of the artists. Following The Process, ELJAY teamed up with Richard Daniel and Mel. Crozby (both of whom would join RDFND later in the year) for a short joint EP titled The Triptych.
After executive producing Mel. Crozby’s debut EP, The Free Tea EP, and a short weekly release of non-album tracks, K1NG ELJAY closed out 2017 by releasing the album Second Page: Journals of K1NG ELJAY. This album sees ELJAY returning to the more personal stylings of CLVRFLD, but with less internal anger (aside from “Advice (U Betta)”). Lighthearted tracks are still present, but it largely finds its footing in transparency; “Come By (Interlude)” tells the brief story of a long-forgotten ex trying to slide her way back into ELJAY’s life (among other things), while “…pride?” is a somber piece where ELJAY shows his story-telling strengths. “Focus” and “Restless II” both have excellent guest contributions that discuss anxiety, while “Escape Plan” and “Say Something” both dive into the topic of racism. Second Page takes its listener through a whirlwind of emotions, topics, and themes, all true to ELJAY’s personality.
2018 brought a joint release with DJ Swole entitled The Graduation– it’s mainly a DJ Swole EP (two out of the six tracks have no ELJAY vocals), but that doesn’t prevent him from shining on his solo song “Kinda”. Less than 3 months later, K1NG ELJAY released two projects: first was a conceptual instrumental album called ROYALTY: The Common Tape where ELJAY samples Common’s Be for his beats (with the exception of an Erthling.-produced instrumental where ELJAY raps). ROYALTY was followed by K1NG., which took all of the good that Second Page had to offer and polished it up nicely. ELJAY reminds his audience of how bars-y he can be, sparring with Richard Daniel on the lively “Dedication” and poking fun at adversaries alongside G.I. MAGUS and OZU over the Rapsody-sampled “Point and Laugh.” “Favorite Song” brings a strong hook from Día Leto while ELJAY brags with XXL Freshman alum Mickey Factz; the title track juxtaposes this with a desolate instrumental and has ELJAY shouting his frustrations of hypocrisy. The final track is a remix of Second Page’s “Focus” that spotlights plenty of Birmingham favorites. Erthling., InkLine, D Gut, The Monastery, Richard Daniel, and DJ Swole close out the album by putting on for the city of Birmingham.
Musically, 2019 has been relatively quiet for K1NG ELJAY, as he has focused on his YouTube channel (K1NG ELJAY Gaming) and his podcast network (which features The Triptych Podcast, The Creatives, and GoldenPod City); however, the second half has seen K1NG ELJAY promoting a new mixtape called FREEV3RSE.
K1NG ELJAY is a prime example of honesty being the best policy. With his clever raps, his nerdy references, his honest poetry, and his pride in himself, K1NG ELJAY is destined to reign longterm in this hip-hop game.
For more on K1NG ELJAY:
K1NG ELJAY Playlist, curated by K1NG ELJAY himself: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5PGld5ZGsGOLDCtD0jovVL
K1NG ELJAY’s Bandcamp:
K1NG ELJAY’s FaceBook:
K1NG ELJAY Gaming:
Jakob Frazier, aka Phrasure, a rapper who sometimes writes words that don’t rhyme. He’s committed to spreading word about some of the best MCs from Birmingham, Ala. He can be found on Facebook and Instagram.