[Review] Josh Kumra Feat. K Koke - Helicopters & Planes
Burgeoning UK singer/songwriter Josh Kumra recently unveiled his official debut single, "Helicopters & Planes," featuring Roc Nation rapper K Koke and due out July 9th via RCA Records. Admittedly, I'm growing a bit tired of singers who just throw random rappers on their track to drum up more sales but I don't think that's what's going on here. 21-year old Kumra just seems to naturally gravitate towards hip-hop, after all his breakthrough single was Wretch 32s #1 smash "Don't Go," which he co-wrote. Could "Helicopters & Planes" have done without the rap bit? Absolutely. Does it take anything away from the overall quality of the track? Not in the slightest.
When thinking of musical contemporaries to compare Josh with, there are a couple that come to mind, most notably Ray LaMontagne and Alex Clare (Listen to "Too Close"). Vocally, Kumra's gruff raspy style is very similar to that of Clare, who's single "Too Close" is experiencing a massive resurgence of popularity thanks to a recent TV spot. Rather than experiment with dubstep on his new single, Kumra opts for a more urban sound, tacking U.S.G. member K Koke onto the track and working with hip-hop producer Naughty Boy (Wiley, Chipmunk).
"Helicopters & Planes" isn't all that different from Kumra's buzz single, "Call Off The Search" which Kumra was offering as a free download on his Facebook page. Both tracks offer the listener that same gritty UK soul sound, just with different guest vocalists. "Call Off The Search" features the soothing sounds of UK singer/songwriter Maiday, whereas "Helicopters & Planes" features a hard hitting verse from K Koke. Both tracks could appear on Kumra's forthcoming debut album and I wouldn't flinch, as they're clearly fruits from the same tree. The press release describes the song as sounding like "a beat-peppered Ray Lamontagne or Gnarls Barkley in an introspective mood and slightly paranoid." LOVE THAT.
While I'm slightly favoring "Call Off The Search" for the time being, "Helicopters & Planes" is probably a safer bet for an official first single. I'm looking forward to hearing the full to see what sort of a genre balance we have going on. Kumra's voice is certainly versatile enough to handle either a more folk style or something a bit more hip-hop leaning. I just hope it doesn't lean too heavy in the hip-hop direction.
UK fans, listen to the audio for "Helicopters & Planes" BELOW, U.S. readers listen to the SoundCloud embed ABOVE. The video is set to premiere on VEVO June 18th, while the single will be available starting on July 9th.
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