With a marketing campaign that included a Snoop Dogg mentorship session and teases that simultaneously evoked both late-night R&B infomercials and the sax stylings of the late Michael George, it was easy to dismiss KnowKnow's Mr. Enjoy Da Money as a lighthearted departure from his work with the Higher Brothers. Yet, a single listen to the solo debut album from the Chinese rapper tells a different story. It is one of opulence, hard-hitting bars, and the universal appeal of hip-hop.
KnowKnow, who is more popularly known as DzKnow, is a pivotal member of the Chinese hip-hop group Higher Brothers. The 88rising-backed group is one of the few, if not the only, high-profile rap groups to avoid Chinese censorship, making them the only Chinese rap act to garner widespread international success. And with Mr. Enjoy Da Money, the growing success of 88rising and Chinese hip-hop rise to a boiling point.
Delivering bars in both English and a woozy mixture of Mandarin and Sichuanese, the majority of Mr. Enjoy Da Money will likely be unintelligible to foreign audiences but KnowKnow's effortless flow makes all that an afterthought. Finding inspiration in 50 Cent, Migos, and J. Cole, the references to Maybachs in the Beethoven-inspired "Mr. Bentley" or Blueface in the Jackson Wang-assisted "Face Power" come through clear as day. It is a message of larger-than-life aspirations and luxury delivered over skittering trap rap beats.
The only notable departures from the Higher Brother's infectious rap formula arrive in the form of "R&B All Night" and "I Love You 3000 III." The former is a vintage and velvety slow jam that takes inspiration from both shimmering Chinese pop and the likes of R&B heartbreakers. Meanwhile, "I Love You 3000 III," the album's closing track, is a reimagining of the Stephanie Poetri breakout track that led to a signing with 88rising told through a lovely array of minimalistic lofi sonics.
Regardless of the language it's rapped in, Mr. Enjoy Da Money is a testament to the universal language that is hip-hop. And who better to deliver that decree than DzKnow, KnowKnow, Mr. Bentley, Mafia Cashier, or as we now know him, Mr. Enjoy Da Money.
Listen to Mr. Enjoy Da Money below: