YouTuber, boxer, musician - you name it - KSI, has dropped his second studio album and solo debut album 'Dissimulation', after a string of successful, charting singles in the UK. Ever since dropping 'Lamborghini', KSI hasn't really been taken seriously as a musician. That was until he released a song last year titled 'Down Like That' featuring two of the planets hottest rappers right now Lil baby and Rick Ross. Not only did it have huge features, it debuted in the top 10 of the UK Official Top 40. KSI then went on to drop other charting singles - including 'Houdini' which debuted 6th - and suddenly he was starting to be taken more serious, and a lot of people were anticipating this album.
Firstly, the production on this album for the most part is pretty good. Most of the beats are made up of classic trap elements and heavy baselines which can be found in tracks such as 'Down Like That' and 'Bad Lil Vibe', and KSI for the most part is well fitted to these kind of instrumentals. On the track 'Wake Up Call' we get this animated beat which Trippie Redd's cartoonish vocals are fitted over perfectly, in fact he steals the show on this one because I'm not really feeling KSI's laid back delivery, it comes off corny as he lays some really basic lines, "Don't see me ever lose // I jump hurdles like kangaroos". The beat of 'Domain' is also pretty loud and obnoxious, but works for his loud hook - it's just a shame I wasn't feeling this hook, it came off a bit forced. The song itself is a punchline song, but the punchlines are pretty basic. Despite that, it's not really hard to sit through KSI's verse, so it's still a good track overall. The first beat we're introduced to is on the track 'What You Been On', and it really shows KSI means business with these menacing, sliding 808s and heavy synth bass. There are however some weak spots production wise, such as on tracks like 'How It Feel' and 'Undefeated', which just come across very generic, bland and lifeless - but for the most part it's good.
KSI's not the greatest on the planet when it comes to lyrics, in fact I even pointed out in the previous paragraph an example of generic lines such as on the song 'Wake Up Call' - however, he does have his moments every now and then with a good punchline here or a bar there, which pleasantly surprised me. We get nice credit card/Tinder wordplay on 'Bad Lil Vibe' with the lines, "Wanna take me to the room, I can't decline // Only took one swipe to change her life", as well as KSI stealing the show on 'Poppin' with some good lines like "Got my accountant to show me my capital and he came back with an essay", which is a hard way to show off how much money you've got. I would argue KSI stole the show on this track, I mean Smokepurpp did come hard with a great flow over this quick paced, catchy beat but Lil Pump's verse - while he was giving off this fun energy - had some horrible lines, "Look at my wrist, Corona (Huh) // My neck got Ebola". He also was the highlight of 'Houdini' in my opinion, but everybody turned up on that one with Swarmz' hook being perfect for this afrobashment beat with heavy, sliding drums, and Tion Wayne delivering a nice verse - but KSI's Jamaican accent was tailor-made for this track, and he had some bars in there too, "My fourth letter gettin' bigger in the alphabet", obviously referring to the size of his penis - nothing too clever but it made me laugh. I think KSI overdoes the autotune at times on this project, and occasionally he is monotone but I wouldn't say this affected a lot of the songs.
The biggest attraction of the album is the star-studded feature list on this thing, and with names as big as this - you can expect they all pretty much turn up, sometimes even outperforming KSI, but for the most part I think he stands his ground well. Offset is the first feature we hear, on the track 'Cap' and he comes in pretty hard but overall is just a bit basic - he definitely adds to the track though. As for KSI, he also used some basic punchlines and references as he speaks on fake friends and flexes his success on them. It's a pretty mid track, the 808s are pretty hard but other than that the beat is lifeless and I'm not big on the hook - I just don't find it catchy. Jeremih also steals the show on 'Bad Lil Vibe' with his catchy yet fantastic vocals. It's a pretty basic love song over this psychedelic, lowkey beat which sounds good but KSI tries to sing on this - and even with autotune it isn't doing him justice here and just sounds horrible.
The content on this project is pretty typical, with love songs such as 'Bad Lil Vibe' and 'How It Feel', as well as tracks where he just flexes his wealth, for example on 'Wake Up Call'. There are a few tracks on this where he talks about something else, like on 'Killa Killa' which is all about moving past his troubles in life and getting to where he is now. He delivers this over catchy, twinkly synths and 808s with a feature from Aiyana Lee (who I haven't heard of before), but she absolutely kills the hook with her vocals and is the highlight of the track. KSI is mostly basic but has a few good lines, "Money May, now I can choose the weather on any day", I especially like these lines because I think it's a cool flex to say you can change the weather by flying anywhere you want to. The most obvious song to talk about when discussing subject matter is the finale 'Millions'. This track, performed over these melancholy piano synths and heavy 808s, see's KSI talk on his issues with his brother Deji with some emotional lyrics, "You turned my blood against me, you made me hate my bestie // You fucking ruined me, man, but you don't care // Every message that I would send you would just air". He then takes a look at his girlfriend and shows his appreciation for her in the second verse, while singing a hook again but this time sounding much better than he did when he tried to sing on 'Bad Lil Vibe'. Despite the fact this song doesn't go into the most depth, it is pretty deep and is a really accessible track - and also a great way to finish this album off. For the most part however, it's just standard braggadocio on the tracks.
To look at some other tracks, the low points of this album aren't even bad - they're mid. 'How I Feel' has a pretty bland trap beat with KSI spitting some basic to even bad lyrics, "Wearing the new (Ayy) // Piss in the loo (Ooh) // Polish the V's // Now makin' a zoo", like, it just doesn't even make sense or have relevancy? It's a love song with a dreary hook - but despite that it's definitely a listenable song. 'Undefeated' also has a bland trap beat with nothing really interesting going for it. KSI looks back at his success on this track, and its placement in the tracklist doesn't give it credit - coming inbetween two highs of the album: 'Down Like That' and 'Millions'. There's nothing evidently bad with the song, it just doesn't stand out and is passive in the tracklist. The final song I want to mention has to be the first single from the album, and what started KSI's mainstream success - 'Down Like That'. The beat is fire, and the 808s go so crazy and hit with such oomf. KSI's delivery was perfect and had such a punch to it and all the features on this particular track performed. S-X - a featured artist who produced this track - handled the hook with his high pitched/squeaky vocals which sounds great and the hook is so inviting and catchy, while rap superstar Rick Ross delivered a short but sweet verse with his entertaining delivery as he rode the beat well, before passing it onto Lil Baby. Now Lil Baby is an artist I'm not huge on, but I think he came in perfectly and also rode the beat well aswell, giving it a catchy element to it. This song is easily a top three song and I can see why it was the first single.
To conclude, this album showcases KSI's progress from his beginning with tracks like 'Lamborghini' to this - and it's very good progress. I think as a musician, KSI has 100% got potential in the UK scene despite what some say, and he's wrote off too easily. Overall I think he needs to work on the consistency of his sound a little bit and arguably pick a lane to focus on more (the 'Houdini' lane I'd suggest), but yeah the improvement is there to see and this is a decent attempt. The only disappointing part of the album was that the majority of the highlights were the singles we'd already heard - but despite that I'm still impressed with what KSI has dropped and look forward to seeing what he does next.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: What You Been On, Houdini, Killa Killa, Down Like That, Millions
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: How It Feel
OVERALL RATING: Solid 6.5/10