Uriel J. Winfree III’s new EP release Kastleface is named after the tattoo of an upside-down castle which adorns Winfree’s face. He says that this “represents a symbol of knowledge dripping from my restless mind” and “This is just me drippin’ my art on the universe, putting things from my mind into existence”. And art is what Winfree III has created here as it’s hard to know when the music stops, and the images begin; something which is not surprising for a performer who is also an actor and tattoo artist.

Musically this is languid hip-hop mixed with spoken word and all four tracks would easily fit into any trip-hop compilation you’d put together. This is the work of a polymath who pulls together the threads of story, music and visuals to create a whole which is extremely compelling. The music has the effect of softening the blow of some of the lyrical elements which Winfree III says is “processing trauma from the world we all have to endure”.

‘Symptoms’ deals with relationships and mental health: “I know the symptoms, I know the truth”… “shoulda seen the warning signs of mental illness, now I ain’t sayin’ I am perfect”. There’s a lot of frank honesty packed into it’s 2 minute 14 seconds. ‘Motives’ draws from the happy intersection of jazz and hip-hop; a crossover that comes up from time to time whether it’s Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest or DJ Cam. ‘Consequences’ treads a low menacing bounce with a repetitive loop that haunts the edges of the song and supports Winfree’s voice which drives relentlessly through the track. ‘Killer For My Love’ finishes the EP and is almost mainstream (almost!), with a catchy tune that is deftly punctuated by Winfree’s plaintive cries.

The production is crisp, the beats are understated, but perfect, and it has a similar laid-back quality to PM Dawn, albeit closer to the street than the clouds. There is grit in the subject matter but also tenderness in its treatment, something brought out expertly in the full cinematic video for the EP (see below), directed by Meli. G., which doesn’t shy away from the fact that actions have ‘consequences’ as Winfree returns to in all the songs. The Kastleface EP will not take up much of your time but it will linger in the memory longer than its 11 minute running time.

Uriel J. Winfree III socials: Spotify |Twitter | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram | Website | YouTube | iTunes | TikTok

Review by Paul F Cook

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