Jay Slim – The High Life (Just Plain Sound)
Mo’ mo’ Hip Hop, which should come as about as much of a surprise on this blog as a corrupt MP resigning from Parliament. Bu-ut on a slightly more novel tip there’s actually a Rapper here as opposed to the usual collection of tracks borne of a producer having a good time alone in front of his laptop. And he isn’t even Rapping in Russian.
As I’ve probably mentioned before I’ve got a soft spot in the corner of my nefarious, vermin like mind for lyricists who team up with producers to release CC music, if only because it’s such a bizarre rarity in our usually eclectic community, made even more bizarre by the fact that you can’t throw an ethereal brick on the internet without it connecting with the head of a budding producer. Although that’s something of a digression and one which I’ve dwelt on more than a few times before now.
So, ‘The High Life’ from Jay Slim, a full length album with a smattering of guest appearances and prodtion by Just Plain Ant whose name rings enough of a bell for me to know that I have some of his work lurking on my hard drive but not quite so loudly as to remind me exactly what I thought of it last time I heard it. So shame on me for not paying more attention, even more so now that he’s apparently operating his own NetLabel (Just Plain Sounds), serves me right for taking a few weeks off no doubt. Anyway, I’m listening now and natural inclinations to be kind to these more ambitious Hip Hop projects aside I’m not entirely disliking what I’m hearing.
Lyrically this is on fairly safe, well trodden ground with the usual smattering of digs and despair over the state of the industry mixed with a dash of romantic softness which, so far, makes it much the same as an awful lot of ‘Alternative’ Rap albums which struggle to find their place in a genre so commercially dominated by questionable Gangster stuff and no full of tiny niche styles which don’t work well with outsiders. The delivery is nice though, smooth and easy if slightly anonymous and while the subject matter isn’t exactly revolutionary it’s well enough constructed not to leave you wondering how many monkeys the creator had pounding at type writers to make something so pointless, which can be a common problem when it comes to Rap, just visit the DefJux monkey offices for proof of that.
Musically you’re looking at a similar but perhaps slightly less successful version of the above. It’s all very smooth in the dimmed lights, rotating bed, late ’80s Hollywood love scene sort of way and that can have it’s place if you’re lazing around without looking for too much from your backing track but there’s no denying that it’s dying a death in the originality stakes. Conventions exist in music for a reason though, sometimes they do just have their place in the grand scheme of things and if you’re in the sort of place which requires this sort of thing then it’s a good enough example to do the job. A generous assessment on my behalf perhaps (and I can’t think of a time or place where I’d be running to stick this on) but there y’go.
To summarise though I was, from the moment I downloaded this, thinking of Tab (of ‘Poet in the Darkness’ fame) if only because he’s one of the few CC Rappers/Hip Hop artists (he produces too after all) who’s released a truly high quality album and as such a little comparison seems fair although, in this case, none too favourable towards Jay Slim. Both lyrically and rhythmically Tab’s got the edge on originality and depth and even if there’s no major difference between the too in the quality of production, which is technically quite neat here, there remains a difference between something you may as well listen to and something which you really should listen to.