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Kev Choice Delivers Symphonic Rap with Newest Album, ‘The Healing’

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an illustration of the musician Kev Choice with a crown of roses
'The Healing' is Kev Choice's ode to healthy relationships. (Courtesy of the artist)

In 2018, the Oakland Symphony’s “Rooted in Oakland” series brought an orchestral ensemble to the Paramount Theatre. But instead of the 50-piece band playing the usual Mozart or Bach, they summoned the mobbish energy of Too $hort, the Luniz and Dru Down. The mastermind behind that string-heavy tour de hyphy? Oakland’s own, Kev Choice.

Choice isn’t just a prolific, classically trained composer and arranger who has worked with the Oakland and San Francisco symphonies, though; he also raps, produces, sings and is an especially fire pianist. His wide-ranging list of collaborators includes NBA superstar Damian Lillard and local rap savant Rexx Life Raj.

Now, the chameleonic artist is on the verge of a new sound, one that synthesizes his maturity as a veteran Bay Area musician with his latest project, The Healing. He’ll debut select tracks from the album as a “ghetto upscale” pre-release party with guest performances from Rob Woods and T. Carriér on Friday, April 7, at the New Parish in Oakland.

The event will serve as a teaser for the upcoming full-length album (scheduled to be dropped at the end of April). It’s a celebration of the local arts community that has pushed him towards his musical peak — “from concert halls to sidewalks,” as Choice puts it. Though listed as a solo project, the album’s various features — which include Woods and Carriér and contributions from DJ D-Sharp and Drew Banga — are meant to tell a story about the kinds of relationships that men, Black men in particular, are capable of healing from.

“It’s a dope energy to build on. Just seeing how we’re all aligned as men in music, hip hop, community. We focus on craft, positive messaging,” he says. “There’s lots of issues around commitment, trust and transparency in any relationship. This is me telling that in a musical form.”

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The album is part of a planned trilogy, something Choice says is influenced by his work as an orchestra arranger in a genre which often features a series of movements and sequences to create epic emotion. The Healing is a preamble of sorts, and Choice later plans to explore the stages of “progression” and “transformation.”

“It’s about my growth as a human, musician and artist,” he adds. “Every step is building towards a larger composition. This is that first step for people to recognize and hear those elements I’ve been working on.”

‘The Healing’ album pre-release party will be at The New Parish (1743 San Pablo Ave., Oakland) on Friday, April 7 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-40 in advance, $20 at the door.

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