Discussing the pitfalls of fame has had a place in music for decades, and for good reason. No matter how big or small an artists’ following is, it’s likely that they’ve experienced the unwanted attention from strangers, trust issues, and self-doubt that comes with being a public figure. Many songwriters have tackled the subject over the years, but few have done so with the poignancy that Kevin Kazi brings on his latest single, “*Гены* Genes”.
On the surface, this song covers typical, 2019 hip-hop subject matter —- drug use, groupie attention, and self-assured boasting all make appearances over the course of the two-minute track. The combination of trendy lyrical content and Bobby Johnson’s punchy, arpeggiated synth, uplifting bell pattern, and spirited drum programming give the track everything it needs sonically to rack up streaming numbers and Spotify playlist placements. But again, that’s just what’s on the surface. It’s only when you go beneath the surface, beneath the braggadocio, pill popping and groupie rebuffing, that you uncover the profound sadness Kazi is truly experiencing.
It takes just 15 seconds for the young Atlanta artist to begin his thesis on the drawbacks of celebrity.
I don’t wanna be a star, it’s finna happen to me // said she love me when she call it sound like capping to me
At first glance, Kevin’s lyrics about inevitable stardom can be interpreted as a somewhat cliché ideation that many artists can relate to —– he’s confident in his talent and artistic ability, and believes those factors will lead him to a successful music career. This is a significantly less depressing alternative to the underlying meaning of the lyric, that Kevin’s impending stardom is more akin to impending doom. I don’t wanna be a star, it’s finna happen to me, implies that hip-hop celebrity is something Kazi wants no part of, but is unavoidable given his rising career trajectory. He knows that the notoriety he’s on-pace to receive will potentially prevent him from experiencing true love. For this reason, his future fame isn’t a gift or something to be treasured, it’s a disease. A prison being built around him with every play, like and follow he receives, giving him no chance to escape.
Kevin starts off his first and only verse with a notable set of lyrics that again strike the listener as par for the course given the current hip-hop landscape.
I fell in love with the perc, I hear it calling me back // you fell in love with my words, you know I’ve got it like that
Drug abuse is an all-to-common affliction that has claimed the lives of countless artists, but Kazi describing himself as “falling in love” with percs isn’t original as far as rap lyrics go. Same goes for groupies falling in love with him because of his talent. Fortunately, the purpose of these bars is to serve as precursor to a crushing companion couplet.
And I’m slowly losing interest, slowly losing interest // me and girls don’t work and I don’t even fucking get it
These additional lyrics are some of the strongest examples of emotional turmoil that Kazi sneakily expresses on “*Гены*Genes”. The reason he loses interest in love and the people who care for him is practically spelled out. Not knowing whether someone loves a celebrity for their true self or their fame, is an issue that entertainers have grappled with for generations. That, combined with the love of drugs Kazi alludes to, creates a recipe that dooms fame-based relationships from the start. This makes the final few words about not understanding why his relationships our deteriorating particularly devastating. The answer is right in front of him on “*Гены*Genes”, but when someone’s vision is clouded by a haze of success and prescription medication, there’s no way to see it.
It’s possible this song analysis is a prime example of something that’s “not that deep”. Maybe Kevin Kazi’s lyrics were meant to be surface level. Maybe there weren’t layers to explore underneath the catchy bars. Whether placing these hidden meanings and witticisms throughout the track was intentional or not, it’s clear that Kevin Kazi is more than capable of delivering heartfelt, meaningful lyrics that captivate both lyric and sound-centric audiences alike. That alone is enough reason to bump this track on repeat.
Stream “*Гены*Genes” below.