JK-47 – Made For This (REVIEW)
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
2020 has truly been a breakout year for rapper JK-47, with his debut album ‘Made For This’ released in September to a litany of applause and love. Those accustomed to JK-47 will know him from first breaking onto the scene with ‘Came for the Lot’ in 2019. Accompanying JK on that track was regular collaborator and close friend Nerve, who also enlisted the Tweed Heads South born-and-raised MC for his insane track ‘Sunday Roast’. Since then, JK’s career has only been on an uphill trajectory.
The album has since been touted as one of the best Australian albums of the year, and the hype has not gone unnoticed, with JK-47 taking out Triple J Unearthed’s ‘Artist of the Year’ and ‘National Indigenous Music Awards’ competitions. Despite only being 22 years of age, he has shown deft skills and versatility in his craft as well as being in the music industry for the right reasons. With him being a voice for his people and being the best possible role model for his newborn son.
JK starts off the album with a lyrically powerful song. ‘Abandoned’ speaks on injustices towards Australia’s Indigenous population and how they have been left behind by the government and society. However, through all this adversity, trauma and oppression, JK’s main intention is to make a better life for his young son and to be the best role model possible for him.
Released in May of 2020, ‘The Recipe’ was the first single released ahead of the album. This song embodies everything that makes JK and his team so brilliant. Produced by regular collaborator Jay Orient and mixed & mastered by Nerve, ‘The Recipe’ is one of the best produced songs on the album. The song also has many great one liners peppered throughout, with a personal favourite being; “I was living in a world way too dark to see, now I get up on the stage and I charge a fee”.
This song is the full embodiment of JK’s versatility and undeniable skill. JK showcases his lyrical skills but also proves that he is as adept at melodic vocalisations as he is with rapping by singing the hook. It is a pleasant surprise, and it complements the overall message of the song, being one of paying homage to those who have helped him get to where he is today, where his life is on ‘Full Speed’.
‘Guess Again’ ft DREDUB
‘Guess Again’ is my favourite song from this album. No words can do this song justice. JK-47’s flow throughout the song is world class and DREDUB doesn’t take his foot off the pedal for his cameo. Everything from the instrumental to the up-tempo production makes it one of the best songs of the year. Stop what you’re doing and listen to this song now!
‘Marathons’ ft Jennifer Williams
The inclusion of guitar strings on this track’s intro is perfect, setting the overall vibe for the song. The notion of ‘marathons’ has numerous meanings in this song. JK-47 conveys that growing up in his local community was in of itself a constant race for survival, from trying to put on food on the table to running from the police. In addition, Jennifer Williams’ vocals on the chorus are perfectly suited to the refrained mood of this track.
‘Outta Time (1-Take)’
On a surface level, ‘Outta Time (1-Take)’ is impressive because of how eloquently JK is able to articulate such heavy thoughts and truths in just one take. On a deeper level, the track expresses why JK is so fed up with the society around him, calling attention to the daily struggles of his people who are ultimately born trapped without a real chance at life.
At JK’s live show in Sydney a month ago, the MC noted that whilst ‘Wings’ had the least number of streams he felt it was the song that best reflected his intentions in creating the album. Having taken that in at the time, I have to say that if there is a track which perfectly surmises ‘Made For This’ as a whole, it is this. Fundamentally, JK notes that music was “a way to harness all my darkness and turn it to light”, a way out from the confines of a situation he was ultimately born in to. JK wants to not only use this album to inspire others, but to lead an outcry for reform for Indigenous Australians who have been pushed out of the public eye and left to suffer as a community.
‘I Am Here (Trust Me) ft Phoebe Jacobs’
‘I Am Here (Trust Me)’ gives JK the chance to reflect on the prejudices which restrict not only his people, but greater society. Phoebe Jacobs’ incredible involvement on the chorus elevates JK’s words to an even greater degree, as he reminds his community that he’s here for them and that he’s with them. The video clip which accompanies this track is excellent, affording insight in to the heavy pain in JK’s heart that the music is an outlet for.
‘On One’ ft Chiggz, Nate G & Nerve
Oh man, what a track this is. JK opts to take a step away from the more introspective moments on the album, enlisting the help of ECB’s Chiggz & Nate G alongside Nerve, for another unbelievable head-bopping tune. ‘On One’ is about JK and his closest family in the game being on an upward trajectory to the very top, showing they’re definitely ready to claim what’s theirs.
‘R.I.P’ ft JON DO£, Jarulah
This track is an essential listen. ‘R.I.P’ sees JK grappling with the pain of the friends and family he’s lost through the years, reminiscing on the tirade of trauma he’s had to overcome in order to get to where he is today. ‘R.I.P’ pays homage to these loved ones of JK’s, who act as a constant reminder for the need to be strong in the face of unspeakable adversity. In support are JON DO£ and Jarulah, who offer their own impressive bars and sombre harmonisation to form a powerful concluding track to the album.
With it being a few months since the release of JK’s album, we have had the time to properly absorb everything we can about what can only be described as a masterpiece. It is important to note as well that this is JK’s debut album, meaning whatever is coming next will undoubtedly be even bigger and better. The overriding pain which drives this album is evident with each and every listen, offering a portal in to a world many of us are unfamiliar with; a world without help. Whilst ‘support’ has come the way of JK and his people, JK makes it clear that it has often been a disingenuous support; intended to force assimilation or to appease frustration rather than to ensure growth from disenfranchisement.
As a whole, this album juggles extreme highs and lows, painting a portrait of an artist with desires to break through the struggles of his community in order to be an advocate for them. ‘Made For This’ contains plenty of bangers, with mosh-worthy instrumentals and ecstatic horns giving JK the platform to demonstrate his confidence in delivering the message of this album. Whilst the bangers are integral, it is the album’s more solemn, introspective moments which hold the key to creating change, it is simply up to the listener to truly take in JK’s words. The manner in which JK delivers and reaffirms his desire to instigate change, inspire his community and ensure his son’s positive upbringing is exceptional, proving that JK-47, in spite of any objection or self-doubt, is wholeheartedly made for this.
Originally published December 22nd, 2020.