The Curve: The Knux’s “Eleven” & Second Chances In The Music Industry

The group’s excellent new album makes a strong case that the time has finally arrived for the brotherly duo to break out.
By    May 11, 2015


Doc Zeus drinks scotch when he’s sad about sports

2008 was the wrong time for the Knux to be ahead of the curve. Interscope had curiously signed the Nola-to-Los Angeles brotherly transplants, but the label was still very much the House of Curtis Jackson–focused on producing 50 Cent and a coterie of his cookie-cutter clones as their primary export.

When the Knux dropped their mostly-forgotten debut album, Remind Me In 3 Days in October 2008, it didn’t matter that the talented brothers’ debut was one of the decade’s most underrated rap albums. It’s eclectic mishmash of funk, indie rock and OutKast-ian psychedelia met a hip-hop world that was very different from now. Very much in the thrall of the traditional hyper-masculinity, the industry had very little use for a pair of electric guitar-playing weirdos in tight leather jackets and guy-liner.

Kentrell “Krispy” Lindsey and Alvin “Joey” Lindsey might have rapped about chasing coke-snorting scene girls as a basic raison d’etre, but it was always a little lazy when they were branded “hipster rappers” by detractors–underplaying their New Orleans roots, ignoring their criminal past and choosing to focus on the coffee houses and skinny jeans of their present. Unfortunately for the two brothers, their debut album landed with a resounding thud on the charts and were soon dropped by Interscope–potentially dooming the Brothers Lindsey to a curious musical footnote of the pre-808s & Heartbreak hip-hop scene.

Seven years later, the face of hip-hop looks remarkably similar to what the Knux looked like in 2008. “Rap Weirdos” like Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown, Young Thug and even Drake are wholeheartedly embraced by the industry with only regressive troglodytes like Troy Ave calling for a return to rap’s traditional size-40 jeans and restrictive hyper-masculinity. Mainstream hip-hop has never been more inclusive to a broader range of acts that thrive upon individuality and distinctive idiosyncrasies. Is it possible that the Knux can finally find success in this new world order of misfits and weirdos? The group’s excellent new album, Eleven, makes a strong case that time has finally arrived for the brotherly duo to break out.

Like their first album, Eleven is built upon the group’s wide-ranging musical sensibilities that serves to show how accomplished musicians the two brothers actually are. As artists, the Knux have a confidence to their sound that never apologizes for the hipster-y influences in their music. They take scattered bits of indie pop, electro, blues and psychedelic rock riffs only for them to dirtily chop them up into dusty loops to rap on. “Echoes Of The Lost” sounds like the Black Keys showed up to produce a studio session while a track like “Lucky Ones” has slyly, melodic influences from British trip- hop groups like Portishead and Massive Attack. In lesser artists, this might feel fatally corny but the Knux can get away it because it’s pop rap that’s packaging still has sharp edges to it.

As rappers, Krispy and Joey are playful with language, peppering their verses with lively, off-beat flows, melodic hooks and gregarious sex talk. Eleven doesn’t break very much new ground subject wise for the group as the Knux are as obsessed with the Hollywood party life as they ever were. Most of the tracks on this ten-song album have a cocaine and cigarette aftertaste to them. It hardly matters, though, when the songs are so fun. The Knux have an intrinsic understanding of melody better than most rappers and songs like “Let Go” and their ode-to-threesomes single “Mirage,” have choruses that have a knack for stuck in your head for days. “Let Go,” the album’s best song, even delivers unexpected pathos to the album when Joey raps about forgiveness and family:

“Holding onto guilt like I put lupus in my mother
Trying to mend it all with my father
Why even bother?
I forgive him but not like the Christians
More like a warrior that developed a thick skin.”

There is unexpected depth buried deep within all the party and bullshit. There is a price to pay for being ahead of the curve. The music business is about timing and being an original can sometimes be the difference between being misunderstood in your time and millions of dollars in another. Cultures can shift in just a few years though and a once, promising but forgotten artists can find themselves with a second chance. The Knux were once ahead of the curve but now that the curve has caught back up with them. It might be finally possible for them to win. Eleven isn’t a perfect album but it has that extra kick that might push them ahead of the industry, again.

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!
1 Comment