Yoshisun searches for self on new record (K​{​(NO​)​W​}​) BLISS - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Philadelphia rapper and soundscaper Yoshisun has been working towards the release of his latest project for the better part of the past year. Out this week, (K[{NO]W}) BLISS is a stirring collection of sounds that confronts demons and relates personal struggles; it details obstacles confronted as well as optimistic hopes in an impressionistic swirl of sound.

The nine-song project very much charts a personal journey for Yoshisun, from the opening “Magdalena” built around booming, James Blake-esque piano chords by producer yngfu. “I hope my grandmother is proud of me,” Yoshisun raps of his place on the creative ladder, noting later the nagging force of discouragement that must be fought against: “they told us our dreams was out of reach.”

“Ancestral March” is built around a wailing electric guitar and a spacious, free-time atmosphere as lyrics speak of youthful hubris that shifts downward to reality: “growing up, showing up, blowing up, but I didn’t know enough.” This leads into the spacey, ambient contemplation “Phase One,” where urgent bars details jealousy and anger in personal relationships, complimented by samples of psychological talks about the search for oneself.

Throughout (K{[NO]W}) BLISS, Yoshisun uses a variety of samples to underscore the themes of the project: “On The (Way Up)” finds his rhymes and recorded voices reflecting on the importance of dreaming bigger than material success into the realm of spiritual well-being.

But there’s anger and frustration, too: amid the fierce psychedelia of “The Hook,” Yoshisun raps about the fantasy versus reality divide in hip-hop: “Rappers trying to make a mil right now / you just tryna pay the bills eat a meal right now.” Capitalism and greed are deadly, the message seems to be, and the conclusion of the song points to an icon of the 70s as a source of wisdom in this quandary: “anything is feasible / listening to Stevie and I can’t help but wonder how a blind man sees the most.”

The string-laden “Customary Regalia” finds Yoshisun incorporating string samples for a beautiful Portishead-like effect; on “Super Deluxe,” the already amorphous energy of the record begins to dip as the atmosphere becomes more hazy, dreary, and minimal, a reflection of deep contemplation that carries to the conclusion. It’s the part of the project that requires the most concentration, but also yields the biggest epiphanies: on “Corridors,” as Yoshisun’s voice bounces in acid-y double-tracked harmonic dissonance, he says “Trying to fit with the consensus was the start of my pain.” The closing “Blest-Krills” alludes to “shouldering every damn burden” but also sees that there is a road ahead, albeit an unblemished one: “can you heal with me? ‘Cause I’m scarred from it.”

On Twitter, Yoshisun gave some insight into the project, noting that (K{[NO]W}) BLISS “is like a permission slip for me to be a joyous person. Holding onto past resentment is an easy means to give up on LIVING much too soon.” Though he says the project can be difficult to listen to, it’s filled with clarity as well, and is “ultimately my omission of what’s past and an allowance of I and I to bask in what’s present.”


Listen to (K{[NO]W]) BLISS below and grab a download at Bandcamp.

On the leadup to (K{[NO]W]) BLISS‘ release, Yoshisun released two instrumental tracks — the meditative gamelan vibes of “Bali” and the pensive “Mausoleum,” a compliment to his other workshopping-type releases PERFECT HAIR and #FREEGLUTEN. Listen below.

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