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Listen to Kiefer’s Debut Album, ‘Kickinit Alone’ by Leaving Records

Los Angeles musician Kiefer Shackelford (part of the Mndsgn LIVE Trio – Mndsgn, Swarvy, Kiefer and the Jonah Levine Collective) may be a new name to most, but the young keyboardist and producer has a small cult following.

From Instagram videos of him playing along to his favorite records, Dilla tributes, local appearances at local jazz fests, and time in the studio with Mndsgn, Shackelford has naturally carved out his own corner of soulful beat music.

The title track from Kiefer’s debut album, Kickinit Alone, is a striking entry to this lineage of hip-hop inextricably tethered to jazz. “Kickinit Alone” moves with a patient step, its short piano phrase looping like it was ripped from a dusty vinyl and brought to life. The warm hiss of tape noise and subtle effects give the track a smokey vibe. But then the piano suddenly flips to a Rhodes-y sound, and the melody moves from its blues center towards more muted hues. Even in brief divergences, Kiefer is a subtle showman, bringing depth to quiet flourishes.