J-Zone A Job Ain’t Nuthin but Work LP
This is the fifth official album release from the Old Maider, and the guy still persists in carving his own mad colourful niche amongst what counts as Hip-Hop in the 21st Century. This album pretty much follows the direction set by his previous effort, 2003’s ‘$ick of bein’ Rich’. In other words, less skits, even less ‘conscious’ subject matter, no accordions and, most unfortunately, no H.U.G. In its place are pitched-up funk samples and more irreverent themes, involving Disco Ho’s, bald-headed ho’s, and ho’s that don’t quite shower enough. This may come as a further disappointment to many who first rated ‘Music for Tu Madre’, which managed to involve socially aware material without coming off pretentious or patronising, and see his subsequent efforts as a series of diminishing returns. But these people are missing the point, as each album represents a significant departure from the previous in terms of perspective, without appearing overtly contradictory (although he did used to make a point about not doing choruses). For example, in ‘The Zone Report’ he displays a sense of self awareness that simply isn’t on show in other artists, commenting on his previous releases and even dismissing ‘Pimps don’t Pay Taxes’ by claiming ‘…in retrospect, the beats was weak’. By doing this, he runs the risk of patronising his fan base, not that he seems to be too concerned about this happening.
It’s a definite improvement on his previous album, simply through being more consistent, and containing less in the way of previously available material, which is this time limited to one double A-Side 12 and a remix of a previous B-Side. The guest spots feel less arbitrary; the humour largely works and doesn’t detract from the overall package. He manages to include concepts for practically every song without deviating within it. Standout tracks include ‘Disco Ho’ where he illustrates the folly of dancing in a club, ‘Bulls**t City’, which breaks down the reality of living in New York, and the aforementioned ‘Zone Report’.
There are some criticisms; the majority of the beats do seem to be too similar to each other, and are more interchangeable rather than complimenting the lyrics in the same way that previous tunes have managed. Plus, the drums don’t hit as hard as they used to, and he is in danger of repeating himself, with a lot of the subject matter not having the same impact it once did, ‘Baldylocks’ is a good example of this. The departure of H.U.G from J-Zone records is noticeable and partly responsible for the loss of an important factor in the music, namely the humility, as well as the social commentary. J-Zone seems concerned about appearing introverted or depressing by doing this, but he was one of the few that could pull it off intelligently and in a way that was entertaining, so he should think twice before discarding it completely.
Above anything else, what shines on this album is the sheer originality of his sound, which, as usual, is a digression from the previous release. It’s fun, entertaining and doesn’t take itself too seriously. He’s one of the few artists out now that deserve to be in the pantheon of classic Hip-Hop acts, such as Public Enemy and Ultramagnetic MC’s, and one of the few, and best, reasons to be proud of this era of rap music that we’re in right now.
- Nik Drou
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