Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rhymehouse Review "Wait, You Can Rap?!?!"


By: R.M. London

Coming off their huge 2007 stampede full of Rawkus 50 digi-drops, a Mick Boogie Mixtape and quirky electro looped buzz blog blockbusters, the Notherground imprint continues their march toward fame by introducing their collective’s secret weapon– Jelani. Via a free zip download, the Harlem harbinger of hip hop’s third renaissance demands his presence be felt with 12-tracks full of beastly multies, punchlines, daydream diatribes and playful braggadocio over booming beats. As the promotional blog craze continues its popularity, more and more artists are offering free songs, mixtapes and albums in hopes to gather new hungry hip hop fans to feast on their creations. Til’ this day, avid fans continue their downloading binges, and as one of them, I begin to download the debut of yet another New York MC and thought to myself one thing– So, you think you can rap?!?!

With help from Notherground mates 6th Sense, Wildabeast and Mike Maven on vocals, and a fresh lineup of today’s must hear producers in 6th Sense, Frequency and Ryan Durkin, Jelani surrounds himself with unadulterated talent that catapults his smooth flow into another realm of sonic sultriness. Starting off the record with his “Wait, You Can Rap?!?! (Intro),” Jelani slams his fist down into your headphones and demands your ear with a head nodding unveiling of his swagger-spit delivery and commanding voice. Off to a good start, Jelani then launches the record with a 2008 song of the year nominee in the 6th Sense designed, electro-beefed banger, “Spotlight,” which Jelani crushes and weaves through with needle tongue precision. The show then switches styles by sliding into a smoother sonic foundation with the spacey “Proposal,” that glides into the funk-plucked positive vibes of “Do What You Love,” where it’s obvious that Jelani practices what he preaches.

Just when the swank, sharp and dapper-like-Dan stylings of Jelani was just beginning to impress me, the album veered off course a bit with two tracks (“Supernova” and “Let’s Dance”) that were obviously created for a fun, party-like atmosphere and does the job, but failed to show Jelani’s true bread and butter talents like the rest of the record. Luckily, Jelani quickly came back on course with the bouncy beated “Jelani the MC” and continued what he started in the first four tracks, and never stopped.

6th Sense and Jelani continued their collaborative assault with “Movers & Shakers,” an organ smeared saliva stomp that spotlighted two of hip hop’s rising stars in their respective zones, then moved to the laid back “U4Got4u,” where Jelani shows his versatility and knack for rhymes that trickle into one another like Jacob’s ladder pieces. The album then catches a second wind with the drizzling piano-laced, choral accompanied banger baked by the hands of Ryan Durkin entitled “Pain,” which ignited a new sound into the already power packed baritone barrage Jelani fires off. Anchoring almost a flawless debut, Jelani drops a feel good tribute to his favorite art with “The Feeling,” and then closes his introduction to the world with the inspirational “Living My Dream,” a jogging drum filled opus that left me nodding my head with a fist held high, clutching my hopes and dreams not yet fulfilled–the perfect ending to the very beginning.

Continuing the consistent tradition that the Notherground movement has already provided, Jelani unveils himself to your stereo speakers and dishes out alley-oops full of hard hitting lyricism, confident coos, motivational speeches and dream devouring drops to slam dunk in your ipod for days. Despite the minor swerve early on in the album to cater to the clubs and dancing hearts of the big apple dames, Jelani arrives into the crowded hip hop scene and leaves a lasting impression that will leave you wanting more.

As the final keyboard sweeps seeped through to end the hidden track and mark the album’s finish, I only had one thing left to say to Jelani– Wait…you CAN rap.

Rhymehouse Rating:
7.5 Records // 10

No comments: