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By : Shamus Hill

7 min read

The sophomore slump is a phrase that’s commonly used to refer to students, athletes, television shows, films, and artists who grow complacent following their first successful go. Whether it is from a perceived notion of vehemence, experimentation gone wrong, or straying too far from the original recipe for success, the sophomore slump has proven to be detrimental to many people throughout time. Though there are many examples out there which supplement this idea, Mattapan rapper, Kadeem, refuses to be subjugated to this curse. Following the aura of achievement that surrounded his 2019 album “World Sport,” he makes his triumphant return to the battlefield with a masterful piece of work titled “Who Cyan Hear Must Feel.”

The adage “who cyan hear must feel” derives from a Jamaican idiom that Kadeem heard frequently throughout his life. In a statement he shared prior to the release of this project, “[I] recall the matriarchs and patriarchs of [my] family frequently using the phrase to remind [me] to slow down and listen to the adults around [me].” The proverb is famously used as a warning to those who don’t listen, relaying the idea that if you don’t listen now, you must be prepared to feel the consequences later on. Kadeem repurposes this sentiment as a warning to those who’ve overlooked him in music, recycling this emotion by creating an undeniable body of work that will finally allow him to be felt.

Sitting at a total length of 28 minutes with nine tracks, ‘Who Cyan Hear Must Feel’ may appear as short and sweet upon first glance, but a listen through the album unearths much more depth than there is initially perceived to be. Kadeem recruits a long list of collaborators to fully-furnish the project, something which shows in the variety of accomplished soundscapes and well-manufactured verses that help to round this release out. Tasked with the sonic structure of this project were Thelonius Martin, All1ne, Gyroman, Snipeman, noPulp, Hasaan Barclay, God.Damn.Chan, and the man himself—Kadeem. Ranging from downbeat, reflective sounds like the instrumental featured on “Pacesetter,” to the nostalgic, balanced beat on “Imported Goods,” this tape provides the grounds for a number of temperaments that Kadeem and company can tap into.

In addition to the list of producers present here, Kadeem also brought on a handful of rappers to see ‘Who Cyan Hear Must Feel’ into its final stages. Caliph, Avenue, Latrell James, Cashmere P, SPNDA, and Ariel Rush all lend their pens to this project, with each delivering verses filled with potency. “Imported Goods” was the lead single for the album, and not only provides a peek towards what Kadeem had coming, but brings together four of Massachusetts’ best MCs under one roof. Hearing Caliph, Avenue, Latrell, and Kadeem trade verses on this track is like watching the 2008 Boston Celtics fall into sync with one another, championing the city along the way. Not only is this special for this project, but it speaks volumes for the music scene prevalent in Massachusetts. This project isn’t just a win for Kadeem, but a win for a creative community that is longing for a spot at the table.

Following the arrival of ‘Who Cyan Hear Must Feel’, Kadeem plans to perform in Boston on May 5th at Odessa alongside local beat makers Loman and Lightfoot. If substantial raps are something of interest to you, then we strongly suggest popping out to hear some of this project live. In the meantime, you can listen to “Who Cyan Hear Must Feel” on your favorite DSP, or by purchasing a copy of your own on Bandcamp.

Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #157 May 2023


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