A harmony that knows not of the earthly boundaries between vocal cords and the strings guiding a bassline soars passionately towards the heavens with a stampede of drums, guitar, organ and melodic expression not far behind it. The beat thrashes us over and over with an unadulterated swing that won’t stop until we’re crushed under the weight of its sway. The guitar crassly cuts to the front and mellows the rhythm, forcefully kneading the tempo into something much more relaxed and unurgent. DR King confidently steps up to the mic and starts to sing of an oppression that sadly doesn’t exist within the pages of our history books alone. Bloodied but unbowed by the world around him, King presses on and into the flash point of the firestorm; he refuses to be broken, and his song “Gravedigger” is his resistance.
Brielle Brown and producer Marc Swersky lent DR King a hand in composing “Gravedigger,” but it’s King himself who is responsible for making its simply crafted melody into the full blown symphony of creative color that we hear it as in this single. The structure of this song isn’t a traditional one, but it features a litany of textures that we can trace directly back to the pioneers of soul who paved the way for modern R&B. King recoils from the flare of the chorus and rejects any temptation to overindulge in the harmony. His self-control is amazing and typically more common in artists twice his age, but as we all know by now, DR King has the artistic maturity of a man wise beyond his years.
Like a seasoned studio veteran, he slips in and out of the growing melodies in this song, not to hide from the immense pressure growing between the beat and the bass but to make sure that he isn’t overshadowing the sublimely tailored arrangement. King’s selflessness in “Gravedigger” reflects in the message of its lyrics, which encourages us to stop throwing fuel on an out of control blaze and start working on actually putting it out. His verses never get political to the point of alienating specific groups of people, but we know exactly what he’s trying to get across to us – hatred, and those who stand for it, have no place in our world, and through music as engaging as this we can effectively eradicate the very notion of inequality from our society.
As King unleashes a powerhouse vocal midway through the song, before allowing the backing band to dive head first into a psychedelic jam, his voice becomes embedded in the melody and literally drives us into the heat of the amplifiers. We ebb and flow with the grooves and come out on the other side of the track feeling empowered by the words that have been sung to us, now as unafraid of the challenges we face as the composition is of its risky construction. DR King took a lot of stylistic chances with this song, from the design of the bridge to the extended climax that it was built to support, but from my vantage point he hits every creative mark looming over this concept without ever flinching. R&B, pop and soul fans alike will want to check out “Gravedigger” ahead of seeing King this January on Kelly Clarkson’s impending tour – it’s a single that will make even his hardcore fans eager to witness his ascent to the top of the charts.