VAN KING is the stage name of Toronto native Kevin Kozo. Currently based in London, KING is expanding his career as a music producer into the realm of recording artist. His sound is heavily influenced by R&B, but he has established a versatile range. A lifelong love of music propelled KING into producing, writing, and recording a handful of tracks and projects while collaborating with other artists. His upcoming work as a producer includes the EP “My Head Is A Dark Place” by Brazilian artist Ary Franklin, and the debut EP for the Ottawa rapper Affy. Recently, VAN KING stepped out into the spotlight with his debut single “Tell Me”. With this track, King is firmly planted in the adult contemporary R&B style, with some modern hip-hop and Electro-pop production cues.
The record balances the past and the present. It’s contemporary with ultra-rhythmic, pummeling drums. Yet, it’s still firmly planted in a smooth retro vocal style that perfectly suits VAN KING musically. The record is gorgeous through and through, with KING delivering a stellar vocal.
The lyrics are chivalrous to the ninth degree, refreshing in age dominated by explicit sex. It is radiant, exhibiting the utmost class, while prudently separating KING from hook-up culture. “Tell Me” portrays love as a beautiful, emotionally-based thing. This is a track for the deep thinking and caring listener.
As usually happens with most independent artists this track will unfairly be heard rarely, if ever, on the radio. Only the few thorough music seekers who seek out VAN KING’s work, or those lucky enough to be reading this, will truly experience the soulful, soothing excellence captured.
The lesson to be learned from “Tell Me”, is that talent trumps all else. The Toronto native showcases his uncanny ability in transitioning his voice and music in smooth flourishes of grounded goodness. With this strategy the track feels warm, intimate and sincere, leaving listeners hanging on every syllable.
With this track it seems not to only be about what VAN KING sings, but how he sings it, that connects and addicts the listener. Smooth soulfulness is innate for the artist and producer. It’s easy to see that a lot of care went into the production of this track.
There’s hardly a wasted moment to be found on here. The instrumentation of strings, percussion, and of course, keys, works throughout the record as a great complement to KING’s vocals. While some R&B artists can get by on the strength of their voices alone, VAN KING puts in the extra effort.
He knows how to play to his strengths, and on “Tell Me” in particular, he is really able to reel it in. The song is carefully crafted exclusively to his fitting, allowing him to hit the sweet spots with ease. Another thing that separates VAN KING from the average R&B crooner is his ability to appeal to listeners who wouldn’t normally find themselves checking into the genre.
A large portion of this success, depends on how KING crafts his soundscapes to include the best flavors of modern electronic sounds. He matches ornate instrumentation with modern studio effects masterfully.