Kid X’s first album in two years finds him on a new journey as a father and husband. It is therefore fitting that there is discernible growth exhibited in the content of the music he is making, particularly when looking at this latest offering. Father Of Zen is the rapper’s second album, following 2018’s Thank Da King. It comes after a hiatus he had taken off music with the intention to focus on his new roles, after he and his wife welcomed a baby girl, Zen, in 2020.
The very first words Kid X says to open the album are, “I vow never to let no man’s opinion of my work to ever affect my truth, spilling out my heart whenever I step in the booth…” on the moody album opener, “The Cure”, which pretty much lets the listener know from the on-set the frame of mind Kid X is in. He has made it a long way from being one of the illest members of the Cashtime Life collective and he now stands alone as a fully fledged man, with nothing but his word and his family in his periphery.
Still on “The Cure”, he goes on to say, “I’m on a mission far greater than debates about what y’all rate… when you’re this blessed you’re never needing the hype…” as if to offer a caveat that what he is about to address throughout the album is truly what’s in his heart, with a complete disregard for what third parties may expect from him. This is a Kid X, or rather, a Bonginkosi Mahlangu album – the man, the father, the husband.
“Do Better” featuring Solo Ntsizwa Ka Mthimkhulu is one of the marquee tracks that illustrate some of the subjects that are clearly important to Kid X, and in this case, the two rappers wrestle with the conflict of being a man in modern day society. In his verse, Kid X contends with the fact that by virtue of being a man, he can’t separate himself from the stain that comes with being a man in a patriarchal world where men are the impetus of all that is bad. He raps, “Looking in the mirror, I see the face of every man throughout the earth and evidently come to strip it off its worth….” and then declares that, “Certain things cannot be taught, need a different school of thought, if we aim to cure what’s toxic…” before ultimately admitting that “I’m flawed as a man, everything that needs healing is the thing that I’m concealing…”
While he is stoic in his presentation of the whole album, Kid X is still versatile in his sound and subject matter, as seen on songs like “Jukebox” which is definitely geared towards the club scene, “Hay’Kancane” appeals more to the trap crowd, whereas “Umraro”, “African Woman” & “DMD” are sure to be staples at wedding receptions this summer. On “Pot of Gold”, he gets in his boom-bap bag and gets in a storytelling groove. “Umdeni” showcases some of the best rapping on the whole album, which is a craft Kid X clearly takes seriously.
With Father of Zen, Kid X manages to bear his soul and reaffirm himself as a serious lyricist who has found his voice and has come into his full being, not only as an artist but also as a man. In the process, he makes the best music of his career and while he made it clear he could care less what critics think, it is still worth noting that Father of Zen is his magnum opus.
Listen to Father of Zen below: