For all his painstaking reticence, the moment eventually found the Koreatown Oddity. A veteran of Los Angeles’ scuzzier hip-hop outposts, the multi-hyphenate artist spent the 2010s alternating between abstract rap records and nervy beat tapes, usually appearing in a rubber werewolf mask. Following the 2019 death of collaborator Ras G, KTO shed his psychedelic trappings for Little Dominiques Nosebleed, a gnarled work of autobiography centered on a succession of childhood car accidents. At times wistful, others free-associative, Nosebleed’s whipsawing chronology turned the spotlight on a rapper who’d long avoided it.
The follow-up, ISTHISFORREAL?, is a return to marginalia, one in conversation with the work of art-rap forerunners Quelle Chris, Open Mike Eagle, and R.A.P. Ferreira. Nine years into his recording career, KTO is now lodged comfortably in a scene of cerebral loners in their thirties and forties, loosely based in Brooklyn and L.A. but more firmly rooted online. Like Eagle’s Anime, Trauma and Divorce and Quelle and Jean Grae’s Everything’s Fine, ISTHISFORREAL? approaches current events obliquely, filtering them through the distorting fuzz of memes, late-night cable, and barbershop chatter.
|A1|| OPENING CONFESSION|
|A6||HOMEBOYS IN OUTERSPACE|
|B2||SOMETHING OR NOTHING?|
|B5|| AN ENDLESS RUN|