Life as a Dog is the first album from 29 year old, San Francisco-based rapper K.flay. K.flay first put out a mixtape, Suburban Rap Queen, in 2004 during her junior year at Stanford University. Now, ten years later, after multiple mixtapes and EPs, and a fling with a major record label, we reach Life as a Dog.
K.flay signed with RCA Records and released one EP, What If It Is, in 2013 but eventually asked to be released from her contract. She funded her debut album through Pledge Music where she received 196% of her goal.
Life as a Dog is filled with indie-electronica beats underneath K.flay’s clever and cynical lyrics. There’s a comfortable pace to the record and yet, in contradiction, it has a somewhat claustrophobic demeanour. The album is more melodic than K.flay’s previous EPs and mixtapes, with the rapper proving herself just as adept at singing as rapping. K.flay’s voice often gives the record an almost dreamlike quality, though the atmosphere generated by the instrumentals portrays more of a fever dream rather than a good night’s sleep.
The album opens with the song ‘Everyone I Know’, a cynical look at K.flay’s friends, or at least acquaintances. The pace of the album is then energized by ‘Fever’, which appears early in the album, and again by ‘Thicker Than Dust’ towards the end. The cynicism on certain tracks can almost feel consuming at some points. The chorus of ‘I’m Good’ features K.flay saying the title multiple times, not always being convincing. Still some tracks occasionally take on a more positive tone like the previously mentioned ‘Thicker Than Dust’ and album closer ‘Get It Right’. That’s not to say there’s no cynicism on those tracks though, there definitely is, but there’s a kind of defiant personal optimism in spite of a cynical world view, a “fuck it” almost-optimism which glimmers throughout the entire album.
Life as a Dog is available from June 25th on iTunes.