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Ken Carson Hits the Mainstream with “A Great Chaos”

It seems like yesterday when Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red arrived to raised eyebrows and confusion from the hip-hop masses. What the Atlanta rapper delivered on that project was largely unexpected given the recognizable fare on his two previous, but it was absolutely a sign of things to come. Whether it’s Lil Uzi Vert embracing EDM on his Pink Tape, or Yeat reaching the height of the genre (read: a Drake feature) entirely majoring in rage rap, what Carti tapped into on that project is no longer just a trend, it’s a bonafide dominant force in rap’s current landscape.

And he himself acknowledged that by minting his Opium Records label, quickly moving to sign up-and-comers Ken Carson and Destroy Lonely. While others outside of the imprint may take their spin at the sound, rage moves as they do—they’ve got a strange hold on Gen Z rap fans, flooding comment sections with references to “Lone” or things being “so Opium.” While social media feeds certainly earn more cultural purchase than ever in 2023, at the end of the day, streams and sales are still what matters most. And, outside of the label owner, Opium was still lacking a major moment in that regard—something finally answered with Ken Carson’s A Great Chaos.

A photo of Atlanta rapper and Opium signee Ken Carson. A Great Chaos, his biggest album to date, was released on October 13th. Taken from @carsonkenx on Instagram.
Taken from @carsonkenx on Instagram.

Huge Early Returns on Ken Carson’s A Great Chaos

A Great Chaos arrives in earnest with “Jennifer’s Body.” The second track on the album, it’s also one that came highly anticipated among Carson’s fanbase after he teased it back in May. Beginning with a stop-and-start intro akin to Green Day’s “Brain Stew,” the track is a high-octane, synthy anthem that heavily leans into the dark aesthetics of his label. It’s over in a blink at just over two minutes, but the energy it brings is infectious—no doubt why it became one of the biggest songs since the project’s release.

Speaking of Opium, fellow signee Destroy Lonely is all over this record, nabbing feature appearances on 3 of the 18 tracks. The first comes with “Singapore.” The balance between the two artists here is almost 50/50, with Lone chipping in a gilded verse fit with references to raver pants and Balenciaga alike, a pretty good approximation of the Opium uniform. Next up is “Paranoid,” where the pair dip into a more melodic part of their talents over a surprisingly understated beat from Working on Dying collective producer F1LTHY. Finally, Lil Uzi Vert makes it a trio on “Like This,” providing a stark bit of textural contrast with his unfiltered, rapid delivery that adds a ton of depth when stuck between Carson and Destroy Lonely’s drawn-out, nocturnal segments.

The Atlanta Rapper Can Still Do It On His Own

Outside of those, Ken Carson and Ken Carson alone carries A Great Chaos. “Fighting My Demons” might be the biggest creative risk on the project, with the rapper switching up his delivery by dipping into a much lower octave—lending a vampiric, villainous quality to what’s a typically boisterous track. The two-pack of “Nightcore” and “Nightcore 2” are the closest things you’ll find to slow jams, where autotuned half-singing takes the place of rapping. Both are set to super inventive and left-field pieces of production that warrant repeat visits if Carson’s contributions didn’t do that already.

In all, A Great Chaos feels like Ken Carson finally arriving at a signature sound—close enough to his rage rap peers to be recognizable, but still scratching an itch that no one else can. You can find the album now on all streaming platforms.

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