For its “First Listen” music series this week, NPR highlighted Pro Era collective member Kirk Knight and his upcoming debut studio album, Late Knight Special. While its title might suggest that a TLC sample is bound to appear on the project, there’s no sign of Chilli, T-Boz, or Left Eye to be found. What IS on LKS, however, is the coming-out party of a man emerging from the shadows.

As part of the Pro Era, Knight has often provided beats or vocals (sometimes, even both) for fellow group mates Joey Bada$$ and Madlib; but up until next week, the rapper-producer never had a full body of work to present as his own. This is a good thing, because it allows the Brooklynite governmentally known as Kirlan Labarrie, to come into the rap game without expectations.

Kirk Knight - Late Knight Special

What stands out most about Late Knight Special, is its maturity of sound. Knight is only 19, but he’s as selective with his beats, as he is with his rhyme schemes. The boom bap sound that defined his New York forefathers pulses through “Brokeland.” The most sinister snare taps along in the background in the bass-heavy club record, “Knight Time.” And the one-two punch of scaled back beats on “Scorpio” and “Down” is genius.

But instrumentation is only part of the equation. Knight has a little help on Late Knight Special from the likes of Joey Bada$$ (on the smooth “5 Minutes,” which is actually more like three-and-a-half minutes long), Thundercat, The Mind, Noname Gypsy, and Mick Jenkins, but Late Knight Special is a showcase of Kirk more than anyone else. His storytelling ability is engrossing, and Knight comes off as a young man who’s equal parts jaded and hungry. And a phone message from a young woman saying “I’m on my way” sets the stage for Knight for play the seducer with a blistering flow on “Scorpio.” Knight even all but apes Kendrick Lamar’s flow on “I Know” (which features the aforementioned Jenkins). At just under a 50 minute run length, Late Knight Special has all the potential to sneak onto “Best of the Year” lists, if not certainly highlight Kirk Knight as a “rap debut of the year” candidate.

Stream Kirk Knight’s Late Knight Special LP in full by way of NPR down below. Late Knight Special is slated to release next week, on October 30.