By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)
You might recognize Knox Fortune from the smash single off Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book last year. He’s a wildly talented producer who works closely with Chicago artists like Joey Purp, Vic Mensa and KAMI. Finally, Knox has a project of his own to demonstrate his talent to the world.
Knox’s star-studded track record has fostered high expectations for Paradise, leaving little doubt that Knox might be able to pull out a couple marketable singles and really make a name for himself as an up-and-coming indie R&B/Pop artist. Paradise doesn’t play consistently from front to back, though. Starting with an all too brief intro and an infectiously quick drumbeat as the backbone, No Dancing does little to set the stage of what to expect with Paradise. Lil Thing follows it up and shows Knox at his best. The beat sounds like pink skies on a late summer evening. His voice is smooth, with a catchy hook and creative instrumentals. If there’s some potential to be recognized throughout this project, it’s right here.
Throughout Paradise, Knox stumbles finding not only his sound but his voice too. Knox’s voice is pitched, auto-tuned and lowered throughout the album, leaving the listener unable to pinpoint exactly who he is as an artist. Torture, one of Paradise’s four singles, shows this with distressing conclusions. Knox’s voice is so auto-tuned it clutters the track, not clearing a path for the otherwise beautiful instrumentals. It almost creates an amateurish atmosphere for the track.
Knox is a talented producer, creating some really interesting instrumentals throughout Paradise. 24 Hours is a great example, a number whose bouncy, sticky bass dominates the entire track. Unfortunately, there isn’t a strong hook and Knox’s vocals are again an issue, sounding careless and slightly distorted.
Not only does the Chicago artist’s inconsistency lie with his vocals and hooks throughout Paradise, the overall tone is confusing. No Dancing doesn’t give the listener enough time to settle into the groove: Stars and Lil Thing sound like woozy daydreams, a sound Knox actually seems at home on, and I Don’t Wanna Talk About It is reminiscent of a dance-punk song from the ’80s.
Bouncing recklessly between tone and sounds, by the end of the Paradise the listener doesn’t feel closer to understanding who exactly Knox Fortune is. It’s one of the few pop albums in recent memory where the instrumentals play a bigger role than the vocals do. This is not to say Knox doesn’t have a decent voice, but the effects he puts on his vocals will make you think otherwise.
Knox Fortune is an artist who has an incredible amount of potential and has already proven he can make hits. Unfortunately, Paradise is a clear indicator that more time is needed to craft a specific sound and voice for the pop star he desires to be.