A Martyr's Reward

A Martyr's Reward

The 49-year-old Brownsville rapper cuts a mythic figure: Raised on the mean streets of ’70s Brooklyn, he now splits his time between being a NYC fire captain and crafting dense rap allegories that touch on Greek mythology and the code of the samurai. But on A Martyr’s Reward, Ka strips down everything—the mythology, the production—to tell his own story, unembellished, over hauntingly minimalist (and mostly self-produced) beats. But it isn’t just his story; it’s the story of surviving being Black in America—or, in the cases of too many of his friends, not surviving. And on “I Need All That,” he demands retribution: “I want back everything they took/My culture, my music, my look.”

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