Rising Atlanta rapper Ken Carson has unleashed his hotly anticipated major-label debut album, X. The 20-track opus includes the emotional single “The End,” which is accompanied by a striking black-and-white video that trended on YouTube this week.
Equal parts enigmatic and prolific, Carson represents a shift in melodic rap. On X, the 21-year-old continues to carve out his own space in the rager lane, showcasing more versatility than ever before while honing the signature sound that propelled him to prominence. Carson’s artistic growth is on full display across the album, especially on highlights like “New,” which feature the artist’s silky vocals gliding over glitchy beats.
Other tracks such as “Freestyle 1” and “Freestyle 2” showcase Carson’s melodic flow, demonstrating a balance of cadence control and lyrical mastery, while “Gems” strikes a harmonious balance between melodic crooning and iron-cut bars. The Atlanta upstart also exudes confidence and poise on “Murda Musik,” “Nobody,” and current single “The End”—delivering distorted earworms that are simultaneously catchy and affecting.
On X, the spotlight stays on Carson, with the only features coming from his Opium labelmates Destroy Lonely and Homixide Gang. The breakout rapper is coming off the success of his 2021 mixtape Project X, a hedonistic trip that embodies the spirit of youthful nihilism.
In 2020, with plenty of downtime during the pandemic, Carson began dropping a series of EPs including Boy Barbie and Teen X, the latter of which blew up on SoundCloud and Spotify with viral hits such as “Yale.” In 2021, he shared Project X, which received praise from Pitchfork, HipHopDX, and other tastemaking outlets. Carson opened 2022 with a placement on Yeat’s 2 Alive track “Geek High” and continued to build momentum with loosies such as “Teen Bean.”
With X, Carson shows he’s continuing to level up, refusing to be put in a box, and trusting his voice more than ever before.