Christmas came early last year when 19 year old Safario released his debut EP titled “KAPISKATE”. A trailblazing body of work that has the bones and front to challenge the established order.
Hailing from, well, a handful of places, the musician and multi-creative had his first crack at music as a drummer and bassist for a punk band already in elementary school. Then it got quiet. A crowd of summers later in a town called Holmestrand, the-then 15 year old Kacper Tratkowski got particularly bored. In a pool of new passions to cultivate, he opted for music and decided to try his hand at production on a school laptop that was about to become his most valuable asset for the next three years. And so begins the story of Safario…
The artist started out as a producer initially hesitant to rap to his own beats. He subsequently hit it off with Oslo based rapper Conz in 2016 and proposed he’d enter the role. Conz, who at the time was in need of a DJ encouraged Safario to give it a whirl. With no previous experience, he took a leap of faith and the duo wound up landing gigs at some of the most acclaimed festivities around the country. Later that same year they founded the creative collective By Any Means; a team of five that shared that common objective; music. However, they disbanded months later; placing him in a position in which he could choose to put music on the shelf or rebrand as the executive figure in his creative universe and arise from the ashes. The result is a thrill ride of a laudable body of work.
“KAPISKATE” finds Safario referencing musical peers, outer space and the present-day tale of Robin Hood. An EP jam-packed with punchy phrases and avant-garde executions. It starts off with the propulsive banger “GO!” which serves as an anthem for go-getters like Safario himself. Although, backed by bold and exciting electronics he gets real for a second. “I might just move back to Poland, I hear the motherland calling”, he thinks out loud. Born and semi-raised in Poland, he moved to Norway at seven years old but grew up viewing the world through international lenses and very much ended up finding it difficult to define exactly where it is he calls home. I like to believe there’s more to things and that the universe has a twisted way of balancing out people’s lives. So, as somebody who doesn’t feel like he truly belongs anywhere, he does however carry the gift of uniting people and creating a place of belonging where everybody can leave their insecurities and inhibitions at the door, put their differences aside, and let loose for a moment. Having witnessed him play multiple times for both small crowds and big crowds, it’s safe to say that Safario isn’t an artist who just offers fellowship, he prioritizes it. Thus you no longer feel like you are standing in a crowd of sheer co-existence, but harmony. And suddenly it is not just a concert anymore, it’s an experience. And if what you love is what defines you I think that makes music his world and the stage his home.
Safario approaches romance in a subtle yet head-on way. “All I needed was a kiss” the rapper laments in the second half of the EPs interlude MHMM + KISS INTERLUDE, and dishes out some of his most charming lyrics maybe ever with “can we meet up at the bay? Picked some flowers for you babe.” The idealistic serenade “Like Your Glasses Girl” presents a sentimental Safario wrapped in sonic shimmer, providing the EP with a crucial variation, as it is a rather intimate and laid back song compared to the rest.
It is not exactly back-breaking to imagine the kind of deals he has been offered, yet no labels have been able to acquire the luxury of adding him to their roster of talent. Regardless, he doesn’t seem like the type of artist to get blended by shiny things. Safario’s policy of being free also applies to not limiting himself during any creative process. Track three, “Feeling Good!” effuses that freedom, lust and atmosphere, and proves that he has a sharp ear for detail and mood-setting with his infusion of quirky sounds and cheerful ad-libs. Safario’s music is not only for the ears though. It takes residence in places within us that are seldom reached which is why it is all around captivating. The secret ingredient must be that freedom. He has a sound that possesses a certain effortless quality yet doesn’t feel too rehearsed. It’s a brilliant dichotomy between improvisation and calculation that has resulted in a magical cohesion. He writes, produces and mixes everything, notably arranging music that starts from different foundations and take a different course if we consider how most songs are built. Nevertheless, the tracks flow seamlessly with each other as each end of a track meets the beginning of the next like the whole project is one story.
To attain that kind of restriction free place of creating, one usually must have embraced themselves and their creativity fully. And it reflects in his music. As well as making organic music, he strikes me as a person who especially values organic relations. The atmosphere in the adventurous “Robin Hood 300” radiates that no-trash eco-friendly vibe signifying the importance of brotherhood. “Always got my water with me, got my fucking brothers winning.” he utters with sincerity. Every now and then throughout the EP you can hear vocal appearances from close friends including his (br)other half and stage companion, DJ HUEY FM and photographer Mohamud Abdirashid featured on the artwork. In an era where everybody makes their grind wholly about themselves, Safario has given his product both flair and character by making it so personal. And it is surprisingly refreshing.
Despite none of the tracks reaching the three minute mark, there is a lasting power that stretches beyond the usual amount of time we spend listening to what’s on our radars. There is a clear-cut difference between liking a project and returning to a project and there is no doubt that “KAPISKATE” carries the potential to become a favourite amongst its listeners. On “All This Motherfuccing Coffee” you get a nice duel between the guitars and drums. It’s a vibrant tune that backs up his notion that originality is far more important than aiming for quality, -which is something he has been quite vocal about in the past. The fact that the songs were recorded within a bedroom does not detract from the quality of the recordings. Frankly, not at all. Safario is an artist who knows all about having to work with what he’s got and actually making it work; something that is beneficial in the grand scheme of things as it ripens into a work ethic that enables one to create anything out of barely nothing. Michelangelo talked about chiseling beautiful sculptures out of marble. Safario’s chisel is his impressive originality that he has used to elevate “KAPISKATE” from this grey block of ordinariness.
Apart from music, the multi-creative also designs his own merch. You can cop it here.
Safario is just getting started, but executes his work in an international fashion indicating that he is meant to do this at a bigger scale. This sense of adventure and confidence, so early in a career, could come off as ambitious and ill-conceived if the rapper did not have the fortitude and skills to back things up, which he does. He appears to be on the same musical wavelength with rappers such as Tyler, The Creator and DUCKWRTH, while still keeping his own peculiarity. When you combine all of this; the passion for originality and the organic, the sartorial aspirations, and going independent, you get embers of the great man himself; Pharrell Williams. With his zest and eccentricity, he would fit right in with the vibrant flavours of Coachella and the Camp Flog Gnaw scenery. There is no doubt that an opening slot will await him in the future. He has certainly planted the seed with “KAPISKATE”. Safario finally punctuates the EP with “IDK MUCH” and enlists Irish rapper Rejjie Snow on the remix. It’s an excellent collaboration that neatly wraps up the project.
Safario is a compelling and engaging artist and I feel it is only a matter of time before he goes from local sensation to national treasure. We look forward to anything Tratkowski conjures up in the near future. In the meantime, Safario is tapped to headline the by:Larm festival in March, alongside musical peers such as Emma Steinbakken and Ousu Leigh. So stay updated because this is an artist who inhabits his own space and seems primed for big things.