Kahiem Rivera’s solo venture grew out of a near-death experience that left him immobile for five months, with nothing better to do but contemplate and write. Like many artists, the Brooklyn native leveraged his depression during that time to craft beautifully expressive pieces of music, all in the quiet comfort of his makeshift bedroom studio. The result is a tone of sweet despondency that weaves its way through his music in mesmerizing wisps and tendrils. Listening requires the full commitment of one’s quiet attention to absorb the intricacies of his poetic rap, but the reward is the reminder that we are not alone in our most poignant moments of rumination.
Part of his upcoming EP Be Quiet, Pt. 1, Rivera’s newest single “This Night Last Year” is a haunting reflection on depression, self-medication, and self-sabotage. The track opens with a spectral female voice asking “Who’s gonna love you when I’m gone?,” after which a languid and minimal beat kicks in. Expressing the strange haze he found himself in at the time of the song’s conception, Rivera makes references to San Junipero, a matrix-like simulation from an episode of Black Mirror where characters can have their consciousness uploaded in lieu of death. Flowing by in an easy rhythm, the lyrics go on to describe the feeling of hopelessly slipping into a state of listlessness: “Feels so good, but I’m not thinkin’ and I’m not growin’ / and I’m not showin’ a sign of maturity / I’m unknowingly falling into a habit / falling into a tragic hat trick.” Sometimes, there is beauty in the darkness.