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“Love Letters” Review: Ka$hCPT Lays Emotions Bare through Effective Storytelling

“Love Letters” Review: Ka$hCPT Lays Emotions Bare through Effective Storytelling

kashcpt cover

Love Letters is a project that demands attention from listeners, demonstrating the best of a young versatile talent with substance behind his work and vast potential for further development…

By Yinoluwa Olowofoyeku

Kelsey Kyle Minaar is a young South-African artist who was born and raised in the Walmer Estate Woodstock area of Cape Town. The 23-year-old artiste, professionally known as Ka$hCPT, grew up listening to various genres of music. This means that although he began his career as a rapper, he possesses a certain stylistic versatility, allowing him to play around with Hip-Hop, R&B, Dancehall and more.

He began thrusting his name into the limelight in 2020, with eye-catching feature verses on Mr Heinz’s “Talk Is Cheap” remix and on J Molley’s “Narco.” These paved the way for his solo effort, “Lightswitch,” to pique the attention of South African listeners, priming them for the release of his debut project, Cape Town Radio. Since then, his career and profile have been budding slowly, maintaining a reputation for versatility and authenticity. With this being his third full-length project (following 2022’s Cape Town Radio 2), Love Letters gives Ka$hCPT a platform to show his burgeoning audience just what he is made of.

Love Letters kicks off with “Falling For You,” starting with soulful key chords, groovy drums and a deep 808 bass underscore over which Ka$hCPT launches right into expressive singing. With strong, clear singing worthy of any Contemporary R&B act, he details the process of falling for his love. The surprisingly effective singing is bolstered by interesting situational and introspective writing that paints a clear picture of the scenario. The singing grows a bit nasal towards the back end of the song, but it is an unmemorable blemish by the time the song comes to a close.

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“West Coast” continues the trend of smooth keys, this time detuning them and backing them up with summer guitar riffs and a bouncy bass guitar. Ka$hCPT unleashes his rapper side as snappy drums set the rhythm. With captivating flow and a steady cadence, Ka$hCPT narrates tales from his upbringing and chronicles his life, recounting stories of struggles and sunsets. Immediately, I am impressed by his ability to talk the listener through his stories, painting legible pictures with his words.

“Take It Slow” slings us an Afrobeat-influenced instrumental, layering Afroswing drums and light percussions over a strummed guitar loop. The genre switch does not impede Ka$hCPT in the slightest, as he rides the bounce with a balanced confident flow. He lets out his singing chops on the chorus, sounding almost like a different artist altogether. He continues the sung delivery into the second verse, approaching it like a melodic Trap artiste would, singing through the rap cadence. The sultriness of the song is nailed on by featured artist, Aida Lee, who laces the track with her soft, delicate vocals, espousing lustful intentions.

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“Signs” brings back the Hip-Hop energy, stacking rattling hi-hats and sharp snares over a droning bassline and shimmering chords. There is a brassy synth that stands out a bit too jarringly in the mix and detracts when it features. Ka$hCPT taps in frequent collaborator, FLVME, to alternate rap verses with him. Beyond interesting harmony lines on the chorus, this song ends up being a bit of a lull as it feels quite run-of-the-mill with nothing particularly standing out as stellar.

“Slide” begins with its phasing keys and rumbling bass on display. Heavy 808s provide the major instrumental thrust as the song springs alive with minimal keys and straightforward R&B drums. Ka$hCPT retrieves his singing hat for this song, utilising simple but effective deliveries to attempt repairing a fractured romantic situation. In a few moments, there are harmony lines that sound a bit unrefined and they feel out of place against the melodies they’re intended to be supporting.

“Too Close” avoids such shortcomings. The track begins with relaxing, filtered chords, topped by a straightforward drum pattern boasting steady hi-hats and snappy snares with playful frills. Ka$hCPT takes this uncomplicated sonic canvas and colours it in with a light varied melody, peppered with introspective lyrics and a rapid staccato delivery. This ended up as one of my favourite songs across the album as it is catchy and highly replaceable without needing to do too much.

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“Possessive” is rife with Old-School Rap vibes, right from its constituent detuned ghostly keys, rumbling bassline, and ghostly vocal samples. The drums are spacious and rigid, keeping time without too much fuss or variation. This means the track is fully carried by Ka$hCPT. The job is done well for the most part as his flow is engaging and he narrates his story in a captivating enough manner. However, the sung sections of the song that bookend the choruses come across a bit weakly, and drop the ball passed on by the efficient rapped verses.

“Want You Back” sees more introspection from Ka$hCPT as he attempts to apologise his way back into a collapsed romantic situation. Thoughtful self-examining lyrics are delivered delightfully in a half-rapped half-sung manner over a smooth funky instrumental characterised by a lively bass guitar, jazzy chords, and a gentle Neo-Soul drum pattern livened by live flourishes. South African singer, Nanette, makes a wonderful appearance on the song, providing the reverse perspective with enthralling harmonies and emotive singing.

“3AM” is a downtempo late-night chronicle, wherein Ka$hCPT sings his way through various ponderances and emotions. An airy bass guitar line forms the base of the song, propping up spacious drums and emotion-filled singing. The choruses are the vocal peaks, featuring warm layered harmonies. The rest of the song falls a bit flat, sadly. Some of the melodies feel repetitive and the lyrics aren’t as relatable or remarkable as some of the others we have heard across the project already.

Love Letters winds down with “Let You Go” which is a thematically poignant conclusion, almost acting as an allegory of a relationship, ending the album (and the relationship) by letting go. The instrumental is built on a filtered bassline, sweeping arpeggio synths, and simple drums that are heightened and altered by the off-kilter percussions, giving it a unique twist. Ka$hCPT sings through his regrets and conclusions with a genuine sense of loss. The melodies employed add to the apparent sadness and sombreness of the track, pulling the listener into the emotional atmosphere being created. Featured artist, Baby S.O.N, delivers a truly moving and affecting verse, employing haunting falsettos and delicate passages in his high vocal registry.

kash tracklist
“Love Letters” tracklist

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Ka$hCPT has vastly impressed me with what he has done on Love Letters. While it is his third full-length project, he is still relatively young and new to the industry, as you would struggle to find much from him beyond 2020. So, approximately 3 years into the crux of his career, there is a commendable maturity to the work he is putting out. The strongest facet of Ka$hCPT’s artistry is his undeniable talent for storytelling. Each song expertly portrays its intended emotions and scenarios through well-written lyrics, fitting composition, and expressive delivery. There is a high level of thematic focus on display as well, with each song staying on theme and fleshing out the overall topic of the album. All the selected featured artists (except maybe FLVME) are equally effective on their own, supplementing Ka$hCPT with their powerful voices, enthralling singing, emotive deliveries and poignant lyricism.

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A significant majority of the production across Love Letters is brilliant. The Soul and R&B influences mean the beats don’t have to be stacked full of intricacies to be effective. Simple breakbeats, minimal chords, and threadbare accents are all that are needed to create effective backdrops for the compelling narratives that Ka$hCPT will weave. Unfortunately, there are a few dull spots that also seem more noticeable when the vocals atop them are not delivering at the same high standards seen elsewhere on the project. Also, technically speaking, there is something to be desired on some of the engineering as there are a number of noticeable dips in engineering quality; moments where vocals seem unbalanced and unrefined, harmonies don’t meld together so seamlessly, or instruments become overpowering and stick out of the mix. Going forwards, I hope this is an area him and his team pay a bit closer attention to.

All in all, Love Letters is a project that demands attention from listeners, demonstrating the best of a young versatile talent with substance behind his work and vast potential for further development. It implores you to take notice of the young man behind it, and allow yourself to be taken on a journey through the emotions he can convey. Ka$hCPT has established a clear penchant for storytelling, and I believe that if he can continue to refine the techniques and skills through which he tells these stories, he could be one to watch for a long time to come. I can’t wait to see him explore his potential further in future.

Lyricism – 1.8

Tracklisting – 1.3

Sound Engineering – 1.4

Vocalisation – 1.4

Listening Experience – 1.3

Rating – 7.2/10

Yinoluwa “Yinoluu” Olowofoyeku is a multi-disciplinary artist and creative who finds expression in various media.

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