By: Tommy “T-Rod” Rodriguez
I love hearing music from up-and-coming rappers. Hearing their influences while witnessing the introduction of their new writing styles and production ideas is fascinating, and even inspiring. To hear someone pick up a mic with no fear and drop a project is beautiful to watch. If you’re a South Florida hip-hop fan seeking this feeling, look no further than Kid Zo and King Ceza’s latest mixtape, No Restraint. It is young, hungry, and brimming with infectious energy.
Off the bat, No Restraint lives up to its name. “Roof on Fire” is a chaotic swirl of bass and rattling percussion that finds a perfect balance between busy and uncontrolled. It’s a fire that burns hot but never gets too large or wild. Kid Zo and King Ceza have great chemistry here, as they do for the rest of the record. While their songwriting aims for a bit more wordplay than typical South Florida rap, they ooze the raw personality that the region is known for. Ceza is calm and collected, radiating a quiet force to his voice that allows the hook of the song to pop, while Kid Zo is more brash and rapid-fire. There’s a nice ebb-and-flow to their partnership that makes up for the small flaws in their vocal mixing or the occasional fall-off from the beat.
No Restraint is quick and brisk, perfect to bump in the whip as you cruise down South or run a 20-minute workout at home. It features eight tracks, with the final two standing as solo cuts from King Ceza and Kid Zo. Zo’s track, “Down & Out,” is reminiscent of an old-school West Coast track with its murderous pianos and thick atmosphere. The song features Zo’s most cutthroat vocals and narrative lyrics, showing promise for his growth as a writer and performer; you can feel the force of air leaving his lungs as he finishes a bar. Ceza’s joint, “Criminal” is horrorcore-esque, thriving on his huskier voice and charisma to craft a magnetic mix of heavy bass and forlorn singing. While I will say I enjoy their synergy as a duo, the two MCs show potential as solo artists with a good ear for instrumentals.
To speak further on No Restraint and its production, I would say it’s extremely varied. You will hear cacophonous Latin grooves on the tropical “Sway”, where Ceza and Kid Zo’s shit-talking feels like it was first spoken off the deck of a Key Biscayne yacht. “Unorthodox” features one of my favorite moments on the record, where the zany electronics and synths match up to remind me of an R-rated Pac Man game; instead of pellets, Pac Man is eating Percs. Ceza and Zo’s flows match the fast beat extremely well, carrying over that young and hungry personality that makes the project so exciting to listen to. The flute melody on “Nasty Bitches 3” reminds me of a more speedy and lo-fi “Mask Off”, and the duo take further cues from Future to diss clingy women in a ballsy fashion. Toxic? Yes. Enjoyable? Absolutely.
For the highlights of the record, I recommend the tracks “Criminal” and “Fake”. The two are the most well-groomed and written songs of the record, and show a level of progression that you don’t typically find from MCs as young as these guys. “Criminal” thrives in its evil synths and villainous energy; Ceza’s lyricism is on point here (especially with the hilarious Charlie Sheen bar), and the overall execution of the track is impressive. “Fake” is the most three-dimensional track, with the beat constantly starting and stopping and shifting, allowing for Zo and Ceza to flex their ability to fit the grooves of the beat and spit game that is simultaneously hilarious and witty. It’s tracks like these that make me happy as a hip-hop head; there’s talent everywhere, you just gotta dig.
And I would say that No Restraint is worth a dig into. It’s raw and unfiltered material from two young MCs putting their talents and confidence to the forefront. Despite the occasional inconveniences that come from being so young, King Ceza and Kid Zo throw their hat into the ring with fiery conviction. Keep your eyes on these two; their voices and sounds are bound to be great if they are as solid as they are now.
Special thanks to King Ceza and Kid Zo for sending an early copy of the mixtape! We hope to hear from you guys soon…
Listen to No Restraint here!
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