On her debut, The Kommencement, Bay Area-bred/New Orleans resident TheSekondElement serves up a lesson in lyricism—an intelligent, introspective collection of message tracks and spoken-word pieces that at its best calls to mind the eclectic acrobatics of Q-Tip and cocksure charisma of MC Lyte. Also known as KAMMs TheACE, this recent college grad proves an apt pupil, sharp enough to call a spade a spade and stylish enough to stand out amongst the crowd.
A true student of the game, TheSekondElement isn’t afraid to kick it old school, packing plenty of bite, substance and integrity in her raps. She takes a look into herself, takes down haters and speaks on the current state of hip-hop. “Since I can remember, I been tough as shark skin / Not letting anybody see the pain I held within,” she swiftly spits over a spiced-up soul groove in “About to Begin (My Story) Pt I.” On “Girls Clockin’,” Barbie B-girls beware: “They say sex sells, but this ain’t a fashion ad / This is true hip-hop, and girlie, you are just a fad.” Not one to shy away from controversial subjects, she fumes at the “coonery” purveyed by BET over a Cab Calloway sample in “My Minstrel Show” and ponders the fate of the industry alongside local emcee Lyrikill in “Dead or Alive.”
While there’s no denying TheSekondElement’s artistic aptitude or the potency behind The Kommencement’s content, almost every time the bells start to rock, a spoken-word segue silences the soiree. As powerful and proficient as these poems may be, they stifle the album’s momentum. She may have a little left to learn, but the hip-hop underground should take note. TheSekondElement’s got an ace up her sleeve.