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ALBUM REVIEW: Family Trust

Karl (Aramis), more commonly known by his stage name Crazy Karl, is a 33 year old artist from Ettrick, Virginia with a multitude of different talents. Aside from his unique sound as a musician, Karl brings his ideas to fruition in other avenues such as business and digital development as well!


Today I will be reviewing Crazy Karl's debut album titled Family Trust, which dropped just a little over a year ago. The project itself consists of ten songs and is approximately a 35 minute listen. Rather than being centered around one specific genre, this project is focused more on one specific message-- family.


Karl created this body of work to inform, inspire, and entertain listeners as they go on this journey with Karl through Virginia. Lyrically, the project is motivational with raw and real bars. Sonically, each song is unique in its own way and there is definitely a song made for every listener out there!


Keep reading to hear more about my analysis and breakdown of each song as well as some words from Crazy Karl himself!

Vy: What was the inspiration behind this project, and what message did you want to give to listeners?


Crazy Karl: I was inspired to create Family Trust because of the lack of quality in the messaging and meaning being provided in music. I want listeners to feel a sense of self determination after listening to this project.

 

Sunfire Coup begins our listening experience with a simple beat that is mellow and chilled out due to the dreamy piano taking center. Karl's flow starts off slow, and the lyrics are vulnerable and even a bit reminiscent. As the song progresses, the energy begins to build up and explode with Karl's confident lyrics.


People always say that rap is similar to poetry, but Crazy Karl is one of the few artists out here who is genuinely doing it! This whole song feels conversational, even up to the spoken outro with the police sirens in the background. I feel like that element of storytelling demonstrated his musicality perfectly.

"Catch me in a sunfire coup, ain't no traffic."

Enemies is a complete vibe switch, and the beat caught my attention before anything! The bass line in this song is so hype that my head immediately started bopping. Flow wise, Karl is really just riding the beat and he doesn't even catch a breath. The ad-libs in this song are so fun and add more to the overall energy, but LaSlime's feature was truly the contrasting finishing touch.

"I got a lot of energy / Enemies / Surrounding me."

The overall feel of Gone in the Wind is old school. I've honestly never heard a song like this before so it was a bit difficult for me to articulate my thoughts on it. The layers of the beat itself are chilled out but given energy by a strong bass line. The way this beat builds up is crazy, and my jaw literally dropped when all of the layers came together.


Karl comes in with a confident yet lazy flow, almost like a diss track. His tone is matter of fact fueled by a hint of aggressiveness, but his smooth voice and flow balances it all out. I really enjoyed his lyricism in this one -- some lyrics made me laugh while others made me rewind to hear it again. The ending and rhyming of each line of the chorus with "friend" also added a catchiness to the song for listeners.

"I know your type -- real shifty like."

Respect and Fear has one of my favorite hooks off the album just because it's so catchy that you'll definitely be singing along by the end. The beat itself has an R&B feel with a smooth melody.

Karl's rhymes are my favorite in this one! Rather than Karl riding the flow like in the previous song, he is more so commanding the beat to his liking in this song. This really allowed him to constantly switch up the flow and make the song more rich.

"Feel the drums / 808 / That 223 'gon hit."

When I first heard Crooked Eye I was actually very confused because the whole feel of this song sounded like a completely different artist! Karl utilizes his lower register in the beginning of the song, with a slow yet hard hitting flow. The drums are low and heavy too, and I can definitely feel it! When he switches to his higher register and rap-sings in the chorus, it really elevated the song to a whole other level. I truly admire an artist who knows how to use their voice to their fullest potential, and Karl has definitely done it in this one.


Lyric wise, I feel like this song highlights the overall message and meaning behind this project the best. The bars are relatable, motivating, and a bit reflective. You just have to replay this one to catch every bar!

"When you're living like you're ready to die / Take every minute, second / Maximize on your time."

Just from hearing the first ten seconds of Flashing Lights, I can confidently say that this is my favorite song off the album. Karl's flow is clean cut and simple, letting listeners catch every word and bar. The beat is so simple yet otherworldly, and the mixing on this one is crisp. Honestly, this whole song is pretty simple, but that's exactly what allows for every element of this song to shine through.


Another reason this is my favorite song is because Karl sings on this one! As a vocalist myself, I applaud his duality as an artist because his singing really highlighted a whole different side to his voice. If you listen closely, the lower harmonies are very beautiful too and add another layer of depth to this simple song. This is the second time my jaw dropped listening to this project so far. I love a good victory song and the lyrics definitely delivered!

"Don't be blinded by the diamonds and the flashing lights / Live fast, get cash, spend it twice."

The beat in Ocean Breeze starts off a bit eerie, but it sets the tone for the build up to come. I appreciated the way this one was mixed. The way the song starts off sounding far away and small to loud and concentrated was insane.


Karl's flow is simple and aggressive in this one, and he's rapping about some serious topics. My favorite part has to be the spoken dialogue in the middle of the song though. It was really motivational and transformed this track from a song to a story. I can see why this song is Karl's personal recommendation!

 

Vy: If the audience could only listen to one song off the album, which would it be and why?


Crazy Karl: If people could only listen to one song, it would have to be Ocean Breeze. This song dives into the conditioning of our people and how our past impacts our present-- especially as a Virginia native and the “unique” history that is used to define our lived experiences.

"The way we are are conditioned defines how we create or destroy a family trust."
 

Voodoo Alley is hands down my title song pick, simply because of the way this song was arranged. Karl flows during the chorus, but commands the beat in each verse by speeding up and slowing down the flow accordingly. The lyrics are catchy with hard hitting 808s that carry the beat. The chorus is easy to follow, and I just know that a lot of people in my demographic would enjoy this song the most!

I didn't even notice the dreamy layers with the electric keyboard underneath the 808s until the outro, but I can hear the way it adds to the ambience with a second listen that made me appreciate this song even more.

"See me walking down the street / I see these demons in the sky / Oh yeah they wanna take my light / I might be running out of time."

Creek Water is one of the fastest paced songs off this album, and it's a great switch up from what we've heard so far. I don't think I've ever heard someone start off a rap song with the guitar the way he did. I keep replaying this song for that unique intro!


I think that Karl had the most fun in this one with his arrogant lyrics. His ad-libs fill in the pockets of the song perfectly, and his flow is so one of a kind that you just have to listen to how he floats over this track. High energy songs like this aren't usually my style, but the way he manipulated the beat with fast dropping bars was so crazy that this song is easily my second favorite. You definitely gotta replay this one to hear every bar too!

"I can give you all of my shoes / You still can't run my race."

Finishing off our listening experience is a slower paced song titled My Fathers Clutch. Although this is a slow song, don't get it twisted because it's more groovy than mellow. The beat itself has a slight jazz feel to it, with drums that give it that rap feel. Karl's flow reminds me of spoken poetry in this last song, and it all goes back to that first song off the album. The flow is simple, but the beat has so many layers that add to the depth of this song. Every line and every word is so clearly articulated that you can't help but pay attention!

"Look who around, not only when you win."
 

After listening to this whole project, I was honestly left speechless. I normally have a lot to say when reviewing albums, but I can't even summarize Family Trust into one genre. Karl is truly a multifaceted musician, and it really showed in this project. The little sound effects like the police sirens and car sounds added to the overall storytelling element, but the dialogue was where he really shined at portraying the overall message.


Karl managed to incorporate various instruments into each beat, manipulated his flow, and even changed the way his voice sounded through the delivery for every song. Karl's lyricism and musicality is unmatched. I rarely quote a line from every single song when I write these reviews, but his bars were just so unique! I enjoyed how he used vocabulary that is not normally seen in rap. Definitely more complex than other rappers I've listened to!


Vy: Lastly, describe your album in one word!

"Family Trust is timeless." - Crazy Karl

My main takeaway from this project is that your real family are the people who give you unconditional support regardless of what you decide to do. Karl raps about a multitude of different topics, but every song really comes down to that same message. As I've said before, this project is more than just an album. Each track off this album is so unique and different in its own way, and there is definitely a song out there for every listener. You really just have to listen and see for yourself!

 

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Written by Vy Truong, @avocavy on IG

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