"I was really curious about doing my own solo project," says local emcee/producer Ken Erwin, aka K-Rock Tha Fantom.
A member of San Diego rap group Far From Ya Average since 2008, he's recently released "Nearly God/Almost Human," his debut album -- and the first effort he's worked on outside the group dynamic.
The transition seems like it went smoothly, with Erwin explaining the process as a pretty organic deal: "The first song I recorded on my own was 'Requiem (For a Dying Art Form)' ... The feeling I got when that song came together so well inspired me to keep going."
And so he did, rolling out nine more tracks full of true school flavor -- a Golden Age purist standing firm on his square.
Indeed, his is a bit of a throwback essence, the eternal spirit of a '90s-era B-boy. And it's apparent in the way he incorporates certain techniques, like the use of scratch work (via DJ Redlite) on the chorus for "Vengeance Of War" -- vintage means extracted from the past.
(Click the image above to play "Nearly God/Almost Human")
It's also in K-Rock's phrasing, as the album's standout track, "Watching the End of the World With Jeru" (featuring Emphasize), references Gang Starr affiliate and pre-millennium rap superhero Jeru the Damaja.
But more than nostalgia or a trip down memory lane, it's Erwin defining things for himself, on his own terms.
"The album came about from just a yearning within myself to make my own statement...to speak my own truth," he says.
Consider it mission accomplished and job well done, as "Nearly God/Almost Human" feels like an honest representation of who he is and every bit -- him.
Listen/buy K-Rock Tha Fantom's debut album here.