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“À nu” Review: Karun’s New EP is a Lustrous Link-Up With Producer Duo, GR! & Hook

“À nu” Review: Karun’s New EP is a Lustrous Link-Up With Producer Duo, GR! & Hook

À nu review| Afrocritik

À nu sees Karun use her dazzling voice as a tool, experimenting with different sounds and cadences, with GR! & Hook who complement this well with their employment of lush soundscapes.

By Frank Njugi 

It is a known fact that Camp Mulla, the Kenyan Urban music group, is one of Africa’s most successful rap groups in African music history.  Camp Mulla comprised rappers, Taio Tripper, Young Kass, MC K’Cous, HypeMan Mykie Toni, and vocalist Karun. Between 2009 and 2013, they achieved phenomenal success and international acclaim together. In 2010, they released the single “Party Don’t Stop“; this and their subsequent works such as their debut album, Funky Town, earned them a nomination for Best International Act (Africa) at the 2012 BET Awards.

After the group split in 2013, all five members tried to replicate the success they had accrued together. But despite each releasing commendable solo projects, only the vocalist has managed to stay in the mainstream limelight with her songs. Karun, in recent years, has released acclaimed projects such as the EPs Catch A Vibe  (2021), and  Passenger 555 (2022),  a collaborative EP with Kenyan producer, Jinku.

“À nu” Review: Karun’s New EP Is a Lustrous Link-Up With Producer Duo, GR! & Hook| Afrocritik
Karun

Her most recent EP, À nu, released only a few days ago, is also another collaborative work, this time with the  Swiss producer duo, GR! & Hook. With a tracklisting of seven songs, À nu sees Karun use her dazzling voice as a tool, experimenting with different sounds and cadences, with GR! & Hook who complement this well with their employment of lush soundscapes.

In the EP’s intro, “Reason”,  she drills into the specific rationales within romantic relationships, framing her chorus with rhetoric and nudges. The song displays a buoyant and sweeping bass sound heard at intervals in the background. It is a preëmptive meant to compensate in the event that her vocals don’t carry the song. It is evident that this is not needed, as her singing voice proves to be exceptional enough.

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À nu tracklist
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GR! & Hook

Containing glimmers of neo-soul melodies and improvisation, “How Far”, the lead single for À nu, comes as the second track. The song is a slow-tempo saccharine ballad with lyrics full of detail-driven storytelling which finds Karun questioning her knowledge on certain occurences.  Its follow-up third single, “My Paradise”, sees GR! & Hook smuggle into the song a pretty tune with danceable percussions, although her arresting vocal delivery still maintains a certain subtlety. This time, she sings about her inclinations and the deeds she is willing to do for the people she has affection for.

In “Wondering Why”, Ghanaian musician, rapper, and record producer,  M.anifest, is featured. He delivers his verses with a profound rhythmic presentation that gives rise to a track with lyrical quality which becomes its bright spark. Karun repeats the titular phrase throughout the song. With a mid-tempo flow working hand-in-hand with high-pitched vocals from Karun, the song forays into how humans question the perception of others about them. In the fifth song, “ I’ll Tell You Why”,  the titular phrase is also repeated in a skittering manner, perhaps to present the track as an explanation for why a lover should remain close to her. GR! & Hook employ percussive beats, both electronic and instrumental. 

“Try Again”, the penultimate single in À nu, is a minute-by-minute detail of her willingness to give love a chance again after a break–up. Its beat is a slow-burning one, giving the song’s tempo a mystic allure. The last track in À nu is “I’m Done”, where with finality, she declares closure on a relationship she is done with. Its ferocious beat, hugely a result of loud and ambient atmospheric soundscape,  makes sure the EP ends on a high note.

Karun’s music showcases spellbinding artistry; this is an artiste who embraces her vocals as a tool to express her feelings and experiences. Perhaps this is why she has become the most successful out of the Camp Mulla quintet. By collaborating with  GR! & Hook,  well-honed and sleek producers who employ beats that conflate well with her vocals, her artistry is taken up another notch. In a nuanced and profound way, Karun uses À nu to voice out her sentiments and the experiences she has sustained.

Lyricism – 1.3

Tracklisting – 1.3

See Also
Ikechukwu- OG Unkle Killz- Afrocritik

Sound Engineering –1.7

Vocalisation – 1.7

Listening Experience – 1.5

Rating – 7.5/10

Frank Njugi is a Kenyan Writer, Culture journalist and Critic who has written on the Kenyan and East African culture scene for platforms such as Debunk Media, The Republic, Culture Africa, Sinema Focus, Wakilisha Africa, The Moveee, Africa in Dialogue, Afrocritik and many others. He tweets as @franknjugi.

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