Yeah, yeah, yeah Pharell this, Pharell that. Today I’m gonna talk about the somewhat overshadowed half of the Neptunes and a stellar album he produced in 2003 for another underated artist named Kenna. The name of this genre bending piece of work is New Sacred Cow and pretty much all the production credit goes to Chase Chad (Chad Hugo) of Neptunes fame.
I first became aware of Kenna while I was sitting in FSU’s film school lounge flipping through channels between classes with my friend Jason Prowell. When we stumbled across this:
Afterwards we both blinked at each other in amazement wondering, “What the hell was that we just watched?”
That would be the only thing I heard of from Kenna until about two years later back in Ohio when I heard Freetime on local college radio. (This video is dope too so I’ll go ahead and post that).
When I heard that this song was from Kenna, the same guy that had that Hellbent video, I immediately went out on a mission to gather as much information about him as I could. That’s how I found out that Chad was in charge of production for his album and I awaited anxiously for the day the album was to drop.
From first listen I knew I was hearing something exceptional. While Chad has gone on record as saying Pharell is the major force behind laying the foundations for Neptunes output, this album proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can definitely hold his own. Glaringly different in their production style from day one, after awhile (to my ears at least) Neptunes product had all started to sound the same to me. This is always the risk of having a signature sound. It seemed as it had turned into the same song several times over, just a matter of whose singing or rhyming over the beat today.
New Sacred Cow however is quite a different story. I dare anyone to try and find a sole genre label to slap on any of these songs and still do them justice. Believe it or not tags as broad as “rock” or “hip-hop/R&B” still don’t encompass the aural offerings of this particular album. I’m not even going to try to describe it, instead I’m going to offer you tracks such as this to analyze for yourself.
Kenna – Vexed and Glorious
It’s apparent throughout that Chad can definitely do his thing. Pharrell may be the one with the drumming experience but tracks like Sunday After You prove that Mr. Hugo can also make ’em knock. Take a listen to all the insanity going on in the background of Man Fading.
Kenna – Man Fading
If nothing else I have to admit that the album is really drum heavy for sure. But while that much is certain I’d venture to say that this is some of the most innovative output from either of the members of Neptunes since they first burst on the scene and made everyone ask who was rocking that funky clavi. I mean for songs such as War in Me the description “jungle ballad” is about as accurate as any other one you might be able to come up with (“jungle” being the more accurate phrasing of “drum n’ bass” for the uninitiated). I’ll make you guys search for that one though. Instead I offer you a more traditional ballad from the album.
Kenna -Yeneh Ababa (Rose)
Rumor has it that another album is in the works for release in the near future. The media machine tells me that Chad is going to be behind this one as well but I know from personal conversations that Kenna has also been toying around with producer Adam 12 who’s worked with artists such as Esthero, Dr. Dre, Rakim, but is most well known right now as half of She Wants Revenge. Apparently a bunch of songs were already completed but by the time label issues were straightened out Kenna and Chad had decided they wanted to do something else with it all. Every now and then you’ll catch a track posted on his MySpace page so keep your ears open.
Also, while we’re on the topic of underated Neptunes shit, somebody please tell me why this track didn’t make it onto the first “Clipse album:
The Giveaway Contest is still going on. I have another, even better one lined up and ready to go as soon as someone wins this one so get to checkin’ for that hidden track in our archive posts. If you missed the contest details you can find details here.