What makes an indie rapper a true King in the modern hip-hop scene? Ask Kutt Calhoun, whose latest lyrical onslaught on “King Kutt” presents a strong case for the B.G.E. founder’s ascension to rap royalty. Watch the full video below to catch some of the dopest lines the KC Chief has dropped to date over stunning visuals.
When J. Cole asserted in “Firing Squad” that there “ain’t gonna be no more kings,” he dismissed a long tradition of hip-hop one-up manship. This music has always been pushed by MCs harkening for the crown; hip-hop culture has been defined since day one by friendly competition, peer rivalries, and a commitment to being the best moving. It’s the mindset that birthed the first lunchroom cyphers, fuels the competitive battle scene today, and inspired some of the most impactful tracks and album drops in this music’s history. With bar after bar over an old-school inspired beat, Kutt Calhoun proves on “King Kutt” that he isn’t content to let that tradition fade, and won’t stand by to watch the streets crumble with no one on the throne.
The opening shots from Kutt’s latest visual manifesto set a comic tone, as a procession of harbingers takes a crack at announcing the Queen’s entrance in increasingly overdone dramatics. By the time the last two heralds squeak out their declarations, the track’s larger underlying themes peek through; the more composed announcers of the batch look around in confusion and disgust as the final grill sporting character embarrasses himself and the approaching royalty with a crackling and disgraceful display reminiscent of far too many “rappers” on the Billboard charts.
A record scratch closes the shot, and makes a few things starkly clear as Kutt steps out of his carriage to survey his Kansas City Kingdom. As the horns of a bouncing b-boy flavored breakbeat build to a crescendo and Kutt walks to meet his Queen, played by his real-world wife, the video for “King Kutt” explodes with an authentic old-school feel. Kutt ain’t satisfied with the state of the game, knows he deserves the crown of the Streets, and wants to take hip-hop back to its roots to drag that crown from the ashes.
It’s a powerful message when delivered by the Kansas City OG, and it bleeds through the beautiful production values and masterfully orchestrated visuals of “King Kutt” before Kutt Calhoun even drops his first rhyme.
When the beat kicks, Kutt busts out an old-school flow that would fit in with the greatest hits from Cube’s catalogue, whom Kutt references in his opening “straight outta Compton” ode. The first verse sets an aggressive no-holds-barred tone for the track, as the King names names calling out his Kansas City rivals and asserting he was the “coldest” on his former label. The internals stack up and Kutt’s pen drips blood as he rhymes for the throne, dropping tight bars that fit the throwback beat like a glove.
As each braggadocious punch lands, the track’s beautifully crafted visuals follow along well. Kutt is depicted on the throne with his beautiful Queen, robed and stylin in the back of his Limo chariot, drenched in sparks as he breathes heat and shows off his signature ink, and catching the breaks in a black and red b-boy jumper and bucket hat beside his crew. In every shot, Kutt raps with the same confidence and aggression, making it clear that his reign can’t be consigned to one style or backdrop.
After a chorus embellished with some authentic scratches and a booming “We’ve got the street suckas! Can you dig it!” that keeps the track rooted in authentic hip-hop culture, Kutt get’s even more pointed in his critique and the video’s story develops to match. Calling out Young Thug and his ilk of emasculated “seamstress” dressed brethren, Kutt pines that he just can’t stomach what modern rappers have done to his beloved art form. An actor dressed in Drake’s “Hotline Bling” attire amusingly scuttles across the screen throughout the verse in a mockery of Drizzy’s oh-so-memeable moves. As the chorus hits again, Kutt takes action to “lay down the law” and sentences Drake to death.
The third verse sports more direct and aggressive jabs calling out faults in the industry, and makes Kutt’s personal stance on why the “streets show weakness” more clear. “Competition is my hobby and job,” Kutt spits; that competitive spirit has always been a driving factor in keeping hip-hop fresh and vibrant, and Kutt harnesses every ounce of his competitive nature in each brazen and well-crafted line. A procession of “Wannabe Migos” with bouncing braids and shabby Dabs are sentenced to Drizzy’s fate as the third chorus hits.
Kutt Calhoun isn’t afraid to fight for his crown: “King Kutt” is pure aggression, and the Migos and Drakes of the world just can’t keep up.
In his last verse, Kutt steps away from roasting his peers and instead crafts a positive image of what a King can and should be. Independent; “your favorite label’s most wanted.” Dependable; Kutt “ate his way to the top” and his Black Gold “dynasty” is built on the bones of chewed up and spit out rappers the Chief has cut his way through. “Still hungry;” Kutt has arguably worn the crown in KC’s streets for years, but that won’t ever stop the King from proving his dominance again and again. It’s a different approach to hip-hop than what Kutt sees poisoning the industry, and it’s one that undeniably has paid off for the B.G.E. C.E.O.
From a production standpoint, this video is another huge step forward for Kutt. Every video release on his Black Gold imprint thus far has been crafted with intense attention to detail, with top tier cinematography and a sizeable investment on the label’s behalf to shoot and edit a product that could stand side by side against anything pushed by the majors. “King Kutt’s” visual treatment harkens back to the golden age as much as the track’s beat and aggressive rhymes do; this video would fit well in Pac’s catalogue, and convincingly asserts Calhoun into that lineage.
From a musical point of view, this track is another stepping stone in Kutt’s evolution into an independent juggernaut. The beat’s golden era feel fits the themes perfectly, and was an expert choice by Calhoun and his team to make a claim to the throne. The rhymes come fast and hard, sticking to Kutt’s trademark straightforward and confrontational style while slipping in enough shadowed jabs to give the track plenty of replayability. And Kutt’s flow fits the track so seamlessly that listeners are transported back to the art form’s heyday, where Kings fought over the crown with every drop and pushed their art form as a result of that competitive drive.
“Ain’t gonna be no more kings,” Cole promised us. But with his queen beside him, Kutt shatters that prediction and steps to the throne, proving the streets are still his to reign over. When you look at his accomplishments over the past year, it’s hard to argue against the Chief’s worthiness to rule. Two headlining national tours, a label built from the ground up, a charting debut EP, a team hell-bent on creating a dynasty the independent way; these are the marks of true hip-hop royalty, and are all badges that King Kutt wears proudly as his B.G.E. brand continues to grow. The fact that the KC Chief is rapping at his absolute best and convincingly waving the standard of the golden age with each recent release is just icing on the cake. So now that you’ve heard the record, what the fuck you gonna do about it, hip-hop?