Kamaiyah and Capolow keep each other on their toes on Oakland Nights, a tribute to their hometown.
Kamaiyah knew we were deprived. Before the start of 2020, she’d been fairly quiet since her 2017 mixtape Before I Wake, a short but cutthroat display of the Oakland sound she grew up with. This year alone, she returned with another small mixtape back in February titled Got It Made. On that project, “Digits” was a standout track featuring Capolow, another Bay Area native. The chemistry between the two rappers was so immaculate that they agreed to team up on Oakland Nights, a 10-track EP that sees both artists trading bars and creating sticky hooks across its brief 25-minute runtime.
Capolow sounds right at home rapping alongside Kamaiyah. On “Gimme Dat,” he tries his hand at making a pop-crossover, with a sing-songy hook that has a bounce that would sound as great in the car speakers as it would at 1 a.m. at the club. Their addictive writing is also apparent on “Undercover,” a sensual late-night jam that has Kamaiyah singing an R&B-like hook that must have existed on some early 2000s MTV compilation.
Despite having several tracks that feel like an attempt at crossover success, Kamaiyah and Capolow also indulge in harder-hitting, aggressive rap songs. On “How I Move,” Capolow raps like he’s on a mission. Backed only by an isolated guitar-chord progression and without the help of Kamaiyah, the track is a showcase for Capolow. His flow sounds angry and his lyrics are punchy.
The lyricism, while fine, isn’t what makes the mixtape so addictive. Kamaiyah’s charm and wit are an indication that she can be both a serious rapper and a jokester at once. Some bars might not land the way she might’ve wanted them to, but it’s not even that much of a deterrent because of how confident she sounds while rapping them.
Although this a collaborative tape between two Oakland rappers, it feels both have their own unique conclusions. For Kamaiyah, this is more a victory lap following Got It Made. For Capolow, this is his opportunity to direct more ears to his solo work as a joint-album with an established Oakland rapper will likely turn some heads.
Trial Track: Gimme Dat