Keenan Layne has been doing music for only 2 years, yet is already managing to earn the respect of his peers, the media, and hip-hop fans at large, in part because of his consistent, no-frills verses. He has proven to be an invaluable purveyor of the craft of rapping. He is a straight shooter, and a hard-hitter, with high ambitions and powerful magnetism. Alongside him, on the EP “Where The Wild Things Are”, 12:03 is an ideal and essential role player, evidence that rappers can succeed even when sharing the spotlight. Keenan Layne is based out of Knoxville TN, while 12:03 hails from Buffalo NY.
Keenan Layne and 12:03 met randomly on Twitter and bonded over their love for music and the art of making it. The result is the recording of this project. The strongest moments on this 5-track recording, show the two leaning into what they excel at – telling it like it is, with both style and grit.
In a genre often anchored by solely showmanship, Keenan Layne and 12:03 deliver effective communication, over and above their vocal stylistics. The opening song, “Courage”, quickly shows how dynamic 12:03 is, in that his eloquent delivery is as important as what he says.
t’s not long before Keenan Layne jumps into the mix, to add more fuel to the fire, with some deep cutting lines. His resonant voice fortifies his presence; it commands your attention. The power of his voice adds emphasis to every line.
The two artists work wonders on the atmospheric and vivid, “Flower Out Of Stone”. This is an attention-grabbing track. The production quality is sky high, as 12:03 spits lyrical flames. Being in sync with other artists isn’t always easy, but it seems Keenan Layne found the perfect partner to work with here.
There is serious chemistry between the two, and their juxtaposing voices play off each other smoothly, in a mix of thunder and lightning. Here Keenan again elevates the level of his artistry while creating a resonating tune.
The title track, “Where The Wild Things Are”, is another sonic gem, wrapped up in a smooth and soulful beat, and spiced up by some fiery and relentless verses, from both Keenan Layne and 12:03. Their deliveries and vocal performances are simply stellar, infusing enough energy to seize the moment, and captivate listeners.
“Happiness” cuts to the heart of what makes this project so essential to the rappers, as they both do majestic work on their respective verses. It’s always a treat to hear upcoming rappers give it their all in the studio.
Packed with solid lyrics and gripping flows, “Down The River” has a beat that pins the listener to the speakers the same way the words do. An instant earworm, Keenan Layne and 12:03’s effortless verses blend beautifully over the magnetizing horn-filled production. It’s a solid technical and groove-filled showing. All-round, this EP radiates panache and expense in its lush sound, framing the rappers’ energy and skillsets.
Within mainstream dominance, Keenan Layne and 12:03, show that independent rappers can thrive and succeed artistically, by carving out niches. By growing within the space in which they are comfortable. By finding the right situation and bringing value to it. “Where The Wild Things Are”, presents that right situation.