On his debut outing, French MC Kobo delivers a poetic and introspective look into the life of an underdog.

Période d’essai (‘Trial Period’ in English) pulls together his past singles and a set of fresh new tracks to produce a solid hip-hop debut album. But one that doesn’t shake him from a bedroom-artist feel.

From the first track, Introspection, the production is made up of inconsistent mastering and basic beats – either intentionally or not – give the impression of an artist yet to deliver what is supposed to be his stand out moment.

This doesn’t have to be taken as a negative critique. Kobo does create a hypnotic sound that zones you out and relaxes you on tracks like Nouveau depart. It is also certainly helped by the tinny effect running throughout.

As background music, Période d’essai crafts an incredibly chilled vibe. When listened to carefully (and obviously with an understanding of French), Kobo’s inward-looking lyricism is beautiful and smart. He’s an artist who can deliver a message with his raps and all the while craft calm and unwind to the sound.

The track Désollusion sticks out as particularly great, finding some rare mixing skills that go a long way to showing the potential for Kobo to deliver world-class hip-hop in the future. Whilst a slow and rhythmic approach may be Kobo’s bread and butter, when the album switches-up to a faster, harder sound, it’s something special.

Kobo demonstrates a talent to change-up from his slow-tempo style into something worth turning eyes to him. This is done in All Eyes On Me showing Kobo’s ferocity as he takes on a much faster flow and aggressive lyricism, Charbon with its fast-spitting bars and a creeping trap beat, and Follow Me‘s violent, drug-filled subject matter over extreme bass.

As a first album, Période d’essai serves as a mellowed, self-reflective piece but one that reveals Kobo’s strength in versatility. Though I’d argue the production is the weakest link, it simultaneously defines Kobo for his cool and hypnotic style. A solid album to switch on and off to.

Rating: 3.5/5