Kojaque’s latest album, PHANTOM OF THE AFTERS, sees the Irish musician release his most personal, cohesive, and fun project yet.
Kojaque’s latest album, PHANTOM OF THE AFTERS, is a breezy, atmospheric collection of tracks from an artist who has seemingly reached his maturity and found his distinctive sound. From the glossy pop of the lead single, ‘WOOF,’ featuring fellow London-based Irish musician Biig Piig, oozing ambience and fun to the more introspective cuts, Kojaque has crafted a record connected to his home, to his family, to his heart, and to his friends. It debuted at number 3 on the Irish Charts, and with highly in demand shows in Vicar Street, Kojaque’s audience are appreciating the sound he’s found.
Kojaque broke onto the scene in 2018 with his debut album Deli Daydreams, with the highlight of this album being the catchy and heartfelt track ‘Eviction Notice,’ a collaboration with fellow Irish musician, Kean Kavanagh. Since then, Kojaque and SOFT BOY RECORDS, his independent record label, have come a long way. The stand-out from his latest album, ‘YOKO OH NO!’ shows his musical growth, an exclusively self-produced track which sees Kojaque stretch his storytelling muscles, taking us on a journey through his romantic stumbles; “It’s probably been a half a decade since I was in love.” The beauty in this song comes from the sample-driven atmosphere and narrative rapping – think MF DOOM meets The Streets. Kojaque so deftly transports us into his world, even if it is only for four minutes.
The beauty in this song comes from the sample-driven atmosphere and narrative rapping, think MFDOOM meets The Streets.
There’s a tension across the runtime of the album, beginning with the opening track, and the anthemic chanting, “Jackie took the soup.” The reference is clear, Kojaque is straying from his Irish roots, and the specific answer to this comes in the beginning of the next song: a voiceover welcoming us onto a flight to London. Kojaque has travelled to London and we are joining him. The tension of his big city move is palpable with countless references to the British capital on the album. As with a lot of the new generation of Dublin musicians (Kojaque’s peers), this record was recorded between both Dublin and London - between his home and wherever he finds himself on any given day. However, what distinguishes Kojaque from other expats is that he seems to have an answer to the dissonance – talk about it. The album still feels grounded and Irish, precisely because of the way Kojaque references his increasing distance from home.
What distinguishes Kojaque from other expats is that he seems to have an answer to the dissonance – talk about it.
It’s not just introspection, Kojaque’s distinctive style of social commentary is found littered throughout the record, on ‘FAT RONALDO / COVENT GARDENS,’ Kojaque plainly observes the failings of the government; “school in the prefab, ain’t no rehab.” The succinct way in which he approaches addressing social issues is to be expected from Kojaque – he doesn’t fail to deliver and never at the cost of his musicianship either. It is evident that Kojaque is inspired and excited to be an Irish musician. His talent is pouring through on this most recent effort, it is grander in scale and scope than we have ever seen from him before. His style feels more refined than ever, and the batch of tracks is impressively consistent and, most importantly, the songs are relaxed and fun. What more can you ask for?