Ko-Lab is the debut 4-track EP by childhood friends and hip-hop duo, Irfana and Taslina. The ‘ko’ in Ko-Lab refers to Kodaikanal, the project having been created on a trip back hometown. The EP also features collaborations by Kalla Sha, RANI and Doc Awes. Taslina Nazar is a Producer, Rapper, and Graphics and Motion Designer currently studying in Atlanta. Her style is influenced by a range of genres ranging from hip-hop, electronic music such as techno, footwork, etc drawing from both global and local arts. Irfana Hameed is a rapper and songwriter with a passion for rock-solid hooks and verses.
The four tracks display a significant variation in the range of tone and lyrical content. The opening track “MOB” starts off with an aggressive tone with some political bars sprinkled across it. The track also features dark and heavy vocals by Kalla Sha. The second track is the standout track of the EP. RANI’s soaring vocals take the track into a different zone altogether. The EP returns to more familiar terrain in the third and fourth track, “Zig Zag” and “Program” with a mix of flexing, and political bars.
The record acts more as a sampler of the range of sounds and styles that Irfana and Taslina are experimenting with. This does mean that the EP does not have a coherent narrative or thematic structure which reduces the replay value of the EP as a collection. Despite that, “Gospel” and “Program” stand out as tracks which demonstrate the potential that Irfana and Taslina have and I found myself replaying them a considerable number of times.
At the end of the day, what makes Ko-Lab stand out is its production. The crisp beats and a production which positions the vocals along those beats in a manner that they all flow together makes it all pop. Ko-Lab works as a project because of the care with which the production has been pursued.
It would certainly be interesting see how Irfana and Taslina carry forward their work in the coming years.