Miss Red

K.O.

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Miss Red (Sharon Stern) is an Israeli dancehall MC with an effortlessly sharp, excited flow, frequently punctuating her rapid-fire rhymes with squeaks, and she's just as adept at switching into a calmer, more detached mode. Ever since she spontaneously took the stage during a 2011 gig by the Bug (Kevin Martin), the two have been frequent collaborators, both on-stage and in the studio. She only made one appearance on the Bug's 2014 album Angels & Devils, but she's clearly a perfect match for Martin's warped brand of industrial dancehall, so it's no surprise that Martin produced her 2015 mixtape Murder as well as her 2018 full-length debut, K.O. On Murder, she rapped over a few familiar tracks by artists like Andy Stott and Evian Christ, but K.O. is entirely full of Bug rhythms, which continue with the "acid ragga" sound he established on a series of 7" singles during the early 2010s. The tracks are heavy and sometimes abrasive, but they don't suffocate Miss Red's exuberant personality or chatty, roughneck lyrics. The songs span several different moods and atmospheres. There are the more uptempo, playful cuts like "Money Machine" and "K.O.," where her lyrics are vicious but she's unmistakably having a boundless amount of fun. The deadly "One Shot Killer," on the other hand, is an aural cold stare, echoing earlier Bug threats like "Poison Dart" and "Skeng." "Clouds" and "Memorial Day" are weightless and ethereal, but still contain enough of a snap to the beats and enough tension so that they don't feel out of place. Both Martin and Stern are fully aware of how far removed from the Jamaican dancehall scene they are, and while they're faithful to some aspects of the genre, they don't sound like they're aping it, and they're certainly coming at it from their own perspectives. K.O. is their most successful collaboration so far, and a flat-out thriller above all else.

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