“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso
For some, art is a hobby. For others, it is a way of life. First Born embodies the essence of the latter. When he isn’t painting murals, creating album art, or having his artwork shown on the local news, he’s recording music and helping run the creative collective, CELESTIA, alongside Clayton County’s dark magician Yamata “Vince” Forever. Both have budding solo careers and together they form the experimental hip-hop duo “Brothers of the Kosmos.” Yamata creates a moody and ethereal palette with his production. First Born has refreshing social commentary about everyday life in Detroit, MI. From being a full-time artist, staying health conscious and alluding to future wealth, he shows all the signs of a bright kid stuck in a dark place.
FB’s journey begins with the easygoing Artlife. “Paintin’ in the day, recording at night / We really bout this art life.” He has a slow flow, but lyrically, he is full of vigor. His imagination is vivid. He doesn’t let the hardships of growing up hinder his creativity. Starin’ At My Fro is an introspective song about gentrification in Detroit. “These white folks starin’ at my fro / I don’t wanna go, they starin’ at my fro.” He even goes on about poor spending habits in his community. “Niggas got expensive jeans with no money in them, tryna have 5 bands in these 5 dollar denims.” His straightforwardness is refreshing.
The producer Yamata drops a verse on Sacred Sol Syndicate. His deep southern accent blends perfectly with the dusky soundscapes. He occasionally throws in Japanese lines so effortlessly, you’d think he was from Tokyo. On the production side, he has a great way of creating atmosphere in his music. It’s dreary, slow, heavy, yet easy to vibe to. Years Later has FB crooning about a girl over a breezy instrumental. It sounds like a late night acid trip. A deadly beat switch soon occurs and FB talks about his family tree being tainted.
The story continues on Waitin’ At The Do, which reveals his lack of a father. He doesn’t get too personal about this topic but he does mention the long-term effects not having one could have. This includes lack of financial literacy, higher chance of going to prison, and solely relying on his mother. The album’s lead single, Kinky, is another trippy ride. Yamata laces it with unorthodox melodies and pumping percussion. FB drops playful lines like, “That paintbrush, yeah nigga, I stole it.” Sweet Potato Fries is a 6 minute track with an epic build up. Rhythmic hi-hats, swirling horns and ghastly pads open the door for another atmospheric ride. FB unexpectedly sings again over drowning, aquatic keys. Once he starts rapping, though, he enters overdrive, performing a highly enlightened verse. The pads start moving like fish in the water, then build up like a kid playing with a Jenga set. He questions his own mortality with, “Will I make it to 21? / Will I make it to 25? / Will I work a fucking 9 to 5?” First knows how potentially boring a normal life can be. He simply wants to live an honest, creatively-driven life. We get a more blissful vibe with Roaming Dwarfstars, the EP’s finale. FB’s performance is drowsy yet zen-like over muffled chords.
Mantra Goo is a refreshing audio experience. While First Born mentions his artistry and health a lot, it never sounds gimmicky. Even with lines like “You too grown for that damn cheek acne,” it always comes off as humorous and honest. Yamata’s chilly production set the perfect vibe, as well. The synergy these two have is natural. If you want something trippy, yet still accessible, Mantra Goo is worth a listen.