Ghana-born Australian rapper Citizen Kay has returned with Demokracy, an eight-track mini-album. Australian hip hop has grown a reputation as being distinctive and unconventional in comparison to long-established American hip hop, but with Citizen Kay’s original style of blending his inspirations with his own heritage, Australian hip hop may soon take another turn.

‘Yes!’ confidently opens the record, kicking off with an infectious brass section to introduce Citizen Kay. As he declares, “the king is here,” the track soon transitions from recurring horns to a contagious funk beat that would be sure to have any mosh pit thumping.

‘Manage’ has been circulating Australian airwaves over the past year, having garnered significant attention on triple j, and best reflects the naturally flowing rapping style that Citizen Kay is releasing. Kay has the ability to pour tireless effort into his lyrics without sounding clichéd, and his natural flow makes listening to his music a breeze.

The inclusion of a brass section on some tracks adds another attractive feature to the record, represented in ‘Raise A Glass’. The funk-inspired line of horns, bass and drums complement Citizen Kay’s distinctive rapping style, providing a refreshing take on Aussie hip hop.

The rapper continuously keeps the listener guessing what to expect next, with his musical and rapping style altering from track to track. ‘Freedoom’ shows a darker side to the artist in comparison to his more uplifting raps on tracks such as ‘Yes!’, as an angst-filled attitude underlies the track.

The authenticity of Kay’s storytelling enables the artist to both captivate listeners and explain his stance on the world. It is visible that Citizen Kay takes his songwriting seriously, and does not merely select words that fit together. Rather, he lets his honest opinion drive the story.

The ability to include party anthems, soulful jams and meaningful rhymes on the one record separates Citizen Kay from his contemporaries. The diversity of the instrumental section throughout the album is hard to find in other artists; with inspired lyrics with unusual backing tracks seemingly a lost art.

A highlight on the record is ‘Slow Down’, in which the use of a soulful instrumental section is a breath of fresh air. Kay senses when to put all of his energy into a rap, and when to relax and brush his lyrics over his music – with the addictively funky ‘Slow Down’ being a perfect example of this.

Citizen Kay manages to blend his American influences with his own passionate and energetic songwriting and rapping style to provide a breath of fresh air to Australian hip hop. While there lacks a standout track on the record, the effortless flow of Kay’s rapping is smooth and fresh. The absence of an Australian accent and inclusion of particularly funky backing tracks may not sound like Australian hip hop; the direction Kay is taking may make the genre a little more attractive.

7/10

Demokracy will be released on November 7 via Asphalt Records.