There are very few artists in Indian hip-hop who exhibit the diverse phases of their artistic journey, like Emiway Bantai. Taking a moment to contemplate, you can easily identify the stages of his musical evolution. From the pre-Raftaar beef phase to the Machayenge phase, where he was confined within himself, focusing solely on quantity. Then, there was the 8-Saal phase when he recognized the burnout and cultivated his melodic side. Now, in the current KOTS phase, he breaks free from his shell and fearlessly confronts both praise and criticism, showcasing a dynamic range without any fear of judgment — a trait that is not new to him.
An artist’s journey is what truly brings them into the limelight — an expedition where people witness their genuine strengths, weaknesses, virtues, and flaws and respond accordingly. Emiway Bantai’s journey echoes the experiences of many young individuals, at least to some extent, if not entirely. This is why his listeners jubilantly celebrate his emergence from a similar background, achieving remarkable success. ‘KOTS’ embodies that very journey — or at least, it holds the promise of it.
‘KOTS’ is a potent 17-track album enveloped in a meaningful cover, beautifully depicting Emiway’s life journey and profound messages. It takes you on an incredible 53-minute musical adventure. Emiway has skillfully crafted a diverse project, collaborating with a league of talented beat producers. Each track boasts a unique sonic flavor, with almost every song produced by a different creative mind. However, this diversity can sometimes work against Emiway as it causes the project to lose a bit of its grip, making it challenging for the songs to seamlessly weave a cohesive story.
Nonetheless, Emiway Bantai puts his heart and soul into this album, delivering everything you could expect from him as an artist. Fearlessly embracing experimentation, he adds an exciting touch to the mix, making ‘KOTS’ an artistic triumph that leaves an impression.
Emiway Bantai King Of The Streets Album Review
This is a meticulously crafted and finely structured project, commencing with a cinematic prelude produced by Pendo46 and Lexnour. This prelude sets the tone as Emiway Bantai imparts wisdom and guides his listeners through life. Pendo’s distinct production style enhances the piece, creating anticipation for what lies ahead and making for a powerful and impactful start. The intro track features a melodic vocal sample that bears resemblance to a gospel song, but with an arrangement that exudes mysterious vibes. The song’s intensity is accentuated by subtle percussion, creating a captivating backdrop that allows Emiway’s vocals to shine brilliantly as he shares his story. Demonstrating his exceptional storytelling abilities, which have always been a prominent aspect of his skillset, Emiway ensures including such a track in each of his projects. However, this particular piece sounds even more polished than his previous works, such as ‘Tribute to Eminem.’
Continuing his profound storytelling, the Mumbai native delivers the third track, ‘Chhod Dala,’ where Emiway Bantai urges his listeners to break free from harmful addictions like smoking and drugs, encouraging them to embrace life with a positive outlook. What sets this track apart is how Emiway shares personal life examples, elevating it beyond a mere preaching session and creating a deeply impactful experience. As these themes are familiar in the streets and hip-hop culture, the song acts as a much-needed elixir for listeners. The unorthodox flute sample and compelling hook blend seamlessly, giving rise to a distinct vibe that resonates with Emiway’s original sound. This makes ‘Chhod Dala’ a highly commendable and potent addition to the album, leaving a lasting impression on the listeners. From this point onward, it would have been truly brilliant if Emiway had ventured into unexplored territories. However, the next track, ‘Jhakkas,’ while not entirely preaching, still follows a similar theme, resulting in a somewhat monotonous feel during the verses. Despite this, the song manages to stand out primarily due to its exceptionally well-composed hook. The presence of a guitar sample adds a captivating element, elevating the overall vibe of the track.
‘Meherbani’ brings its own essence to the table, offering insightful lessons from the rapper. The writing is commendable, and there are subtle elements in the instrumental that add uniqueness to the track. While there might not be anything particularly outstanding to highlight, the overall presentation is decent, striking a balance between not being too bad and not being too fresh. What sounds refreshingly vibrant is ‘Company,’ an anthem that swiftly conquered the Mumbai streets upon its release. Now, standing tall at a remarkable milestone of 150+ million views, ‘Company’ embodies the true essence of Mumbai’s local streets. The beat pulsates with energy, leaving no room for emptiness, and Emiway’s unique flow and catchy hook add an irresistible charm and energy, propelling it to viral fame. Emiway Bantai has consistently embraced the heritage of his surroundings, incorporating slang, language, and dressing style into his art. With ‘Company,’ he takes this fusion a step further, and his bold confidence shines brilliantly through the track.
Next up is one of the finest songs on the album, if not the absolute best — ‘Beta Karta Rap,’ masterfully produced by Xistence. The inclusion of the heavy Veena sample enhances the soundscape, providing a captivating backdrop for Emiway to showcase his extraordinary rapping prowess. He goes all out, delivering quotable lines. Moreover, the well-executed beat switch takes the track to a whole new level, elevating its brilliance even further. ‘Beta Karta Rap’ is undeniably a standout gem. ‘Kya Din The Woh’ is another standout track that presents Emiway Bantai’s heart-melting storytelling. In this song, he eloquently portrays his journey through the struggling days, shedding light on the tireless work and sacrifices he made to attain the success he now enjoys. It goes beyond a mere narrative; it becomes an empowering anthem, urging listeners to chase their dreams relentlessly without making excuses or taking breaks. The track resonates deeply, leaving a profound impact on all who listen, and inspiring them to persevere in their own pursuits and ambitions.
Bantai introduces a refreshing new flavor with ‘Roots,’ skillfully blending a classical cinematic or operatic strings sample with a hip-hop beat, resulting in one of the most successful experiments on the project. As the title suggests, he delves deep into his roots, passionately narrating his background and culture with graceful authenticity. Undoubtedly, rappers like Emiway Bantai, Naezy, and Divine have played a pivotal role in elevating Mumbai slang to global popularity. On ‘Roots,’ Emiway exhibits sharp flows and incredible rhymes — as the song progresses, it gracefully transitions towards a melodic sound, and ‘Scene Change’ takes it further. It’s unfortunate that ‘Scene Change’ gave rise to controversy due to its resemblance to a popular track, but putting the controversy aside, the message conveyed in the song is undeniably empowering, and the production is skillfully executed. However, one glaring issue that detracts from the overall vibe of the song is the heavy contrast between its chorus and verses. The abrupt shift in sound makes it feel disjointed, almost like two different tracks merged. This contrast disrupts the cohesion of the song, hindering the listener from fully immersing themselves in the experience.
Before the album ventures into its diverse sonic landscapes, ‘Rule no. 123’ extends the theme from the preceding track. This song serves as a subtle warning to Emiway’s detractors and opponents, sending a clear message that he’s determined to triumph. Regardless of the challenges life has thrown his way, he consistently manages to rise and achieve, which holds a certain truth. The song’s concept is genuinely impressive, adding to its overall catchiness and making it resonate more powerfully with listeners. ‘Waqt Ke Saath – Interlude’ and ‘Survive’ lean towards a mellower sound, discussing life’s tougher moments. The interlude adeptly functions as a seamless transition track, easing the listener into the upcoming change in mood. On the other hand, ‘Survive’ fails to hit the mark, leaving me rather disappointed, especially since I had high expectations from Emiway for a similar kind of music, albeit in an improved rendition. Excessive salt can indeed render food inedible, and similarly, an abundance of experimentation can disrupt the flow, particularly within a project’s context.
‘KOTS – Freestyle’ unfortunately doesn’t manage to significantly alter the trajectory of the album’s declining momentum. Many lines come across as repetitive, failing to inject new energy into the track. However, the second half, marked by a change in beat, truly shines. It’s here that you can discern a shift in Emiway’s writing style, which adds a fresh and engaging dimension to the track. As we approach the conclusion of the album, the rapper once again revives the tempo with ‘Kya Bolti Public,’ infusing it with vibrant energy. The production, lyrics, and composition harmonize seamlessly, contributing to a cohesive whole. However, what struck me as not quite right was the inclusion of Young Galib on the track. His energy level seems to pale in comparison to Emiway’s dynamic presence on the mic, particularly within Emiway’s signature zone. It’s possible that Galib wasn’t in the optimal mood when he recorded his vocals, and various factors could be at play here.
The penultimate track falls short on the project, and a major factor for this is the choice of instrumental. Although it’s a drill beat, the elements and sample used create a dense backdrop that overpowers Emiway’s vocals. This issue is highlighted by the outro track ‘King Of The Indian Hip-Hop,’ which has the longest runtime on the album. Here, the instrumental works to emphasize his vocals, resulting in a powerful, uplifting impact. In ‘King Of The Indian Hip-Hop,’ Emiway aims at certain artists and showcases a wide variety of flows and his creative prowess. However, it falters in providing clarity during the choppy rapid-fire flow section. This suggests that the album’s sequencing might not be optimal, and there might be fillers or mismatches in track selection. From a different perspective, the album manages to sustain excitement even during dull moments, swiftly recovering the pace. However, there is undeniable repetition that doesn’t justify the album’s length. Perhaps releasing some songs as singles and maintaining a more concise project could have been a better decision. The recurring themes and similar discussions across different tracks on the project lack coherence. Overall, while the album might have its flaws and challenges, it still manages to maintain a certain level of engagement and energy throughout.