In recent years, the music I connect with most largely deals with the painful, tangled nature of love. Yet, Kevin A’s incredibly romantic mixtape Tropic stood out to me in spite of itself. The Scarborough, Ontario native spent years on the project and said that it is an “exploration of his identity,” which inadvertently doubles as a meditation on all types of love.
Widely labeled as experimental, Kevin A (né Kevin Ramroop) establishes his dynamic form of trip-hop on the eight-track EP. Tropic opens with a lullaby and flits between R&B and electronica, making pit stops at hip hop and dancehall. The sounds are what leave a lasting impression, but its words—and their delivery—are what give it weight. I absorbed the lyrics well before I truly heard them, having allowed them to disappear into the dreamy ambiance of each track; several songs held more surprises for me upon closer inspection. Double-entendre marks “Withdraw,” evident by the way Ramroop prints the lyrics on the songpage. The emphasis that he applies in the chorus of “Nine Piece” fills me with yearning: “take my hand, my heart, my everything.” A similar feeling comes through during the hook of “Deepika,” about the joy of falling for someone.
Love can create a specific type of heartache for me—I take very seriously the idea that good things are not meant to last. The nature of R&B production is inherently arresting and emotional, and Ramroop’s falsetto is particularly evocative. But ultimately, accepting that experiences are finite gives me hope: what better reason could one need to live in the moment?