Live from the Smokers Room * Candi Kush * R&B * November 25, 2013

Normally I would write some background about the artist I’m reviewing right here but there’s really not much out there about Candi Kush.  Coming out of Los Angeles and initially going by her given name, Candice, she released a few buzz singles, including the oddly sensual Bitch Wit a Bat, that made low-key rounds on the internet.  But it was the mixtape that she released last year that has really made her break out and brought her more attention.  Currently signed with R&B king Ne-Yo, perhaps part of the reason there is so little to find is that the singer/songwriter wants people to judge the product before the woman.  So we will do just that.

Note: The track Bitch Wit a Bat is not included with the mixtape download and was not reviewed.

1.  Smoker’s Room – This a pretty song with a beautiful melodic production that just seems too good for a free EP.  The concept is something a little more current gen, being about two people finding the possibility for romance over some good weed.  It’s hard to make a song that is 50% about smoking weed sound romantic, but Candi does it with ease.  The lyrics are excellent here as well; they have a genuine hood feeling without trying too hard.

2.  Wussaname – A really good breakup song about seeing your ex in the club with someone else and trying to pretend that you don’t care.  The harmonies here are full with expert use of spoken word phrases that, in other songs, would simply sound like attempts to insert catchy phrases into the song.  The bass-heavy production teamed with the staccato backbeat is something to behold and will have you aching for an instrumental so that your favorite rapper could try his hand at it.  The lyrics are tight and straight-to-the point, making them poignant against the slow beat.  The only downside?  Candi’s rap pulls the listener out of the song.

3.  Neva Turndown – Doing her best Ty Dolla $ign imitation, Candi mixes rap (better than in the previous song) with sing-songy bars.  The song is the typical club anthem but the production, while well done, doesn’t match the mood.  The beat is a little too slow to turnup to.  Upon listening to it, you don’t want to jump on the couches as much as grab a shorty and start grinding.  The lyrics are the standard for this type of song, all about partying forever all everything you can get up to in the club.  Not a bad song, it just seems a little lost in execution.

4.  Simpin’ Ass Nigga – An interlude featuring phone messages of her man trying to get hold of her and getting angry that she’s not answering.

5.  I Ain’t Leavin’ – A song about spending time with your crew instead of your significant other.  Unfortunately, just like Neva Turndown, the full, slow production just doesn’t match the tone.  While Candi’s vocals sound good, they lack the defiance that is evident in the lyrics: I know my man think I’m cheatin’/I’m at the club/And I ain’t leavin’.  Still, I could see a woman playing this in the car on the way to the club after a fight with her man.

6.  KillaCandiKush – An interlude about smoking weed.

7.  Loaded – This song better accomplishes the turnup mood that was attempted in the previous two songs.  Another club anthem, this one is all about getting faded in the club.  The production is strong with sections sounding like the music when it’s heard from outside the club before the big reveal as the door opens.  Lyrics are typical for a club song; nothing deep to be found.  What is good are Candi’s vocals.  She steps away from the laidback sound of the first part of the EP and adds a little attitude, giving her just the right amount of edge.  The second verse assist by Clyde Carson is a good addition, too; giving the feel of a crew getting their party on.

8.  Regret it in the Morning – When the song starts, you immediately recognize the touch of Ne-Yo all over the production.  While decidedly mid-tempo, the track has a heavy bassline teamed with energetic high hat and repetitive drum breakdown that makes you want to dance.  About living and loving someone new with no (immediate) regrets, this is another song based in the possible blossoming of a relationship and not the feeling of being in a new one, something you don’t see often in songs.

9.  Greatest Song I Ever Felt – There is no other way to put it; this is about oral sex.  Again, you sense the helping hand of Ne-Yo on the lyrics as he has a way of making the most crass subject matter sound extremely sexy.  Metaphor of singing/tongue-work was still an underutilized one at the time and is well played throughout.  Candi’s vocals are sensuous and, with backup from Ne-Yo, the harmonies help to play out the metaphor.  The production matches well, allowing the vocals to take control a shape the track.

10.  Potential – This song is arguably the best on the mixtape, showing the true potential of both Candi’s voice and lyrical abilities.  A song about being in love with the person someone can become and not with the actual person, this is highly relatable to many people.  The images the lyrics draw are excellent: I fell in love with you tomorrow/I fell in love with 10 years from now/I fell in love and it could all be so simple/But I’m in love with your potential.  The production dances around vividly and does not hold back because Candi’s voice can keep up with its full crescendo with no effort.  A standout track by any measure.

This definitely worth a download.  It would be worth the cost if she had chosen to charge $4.99 for it.  This is a better full introduction to an artist than most major label artists receive through their first official releases.  It is a highly cohesive project, save the last song, which the inclusion of which made it clear that Candi was capable of more than club songs.  We definitely look forward to what she comes out with next.

Review:  4.0