JOHANNESBURG15°CDURBAN17°CCAPE TOWN16°C
10 Dec, 2018

J Cole

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13min770

“EVERBODY likes it raw,” said J.I.D unintendedly eluding to copulation, while answering a question about his new album DiCaprio 2.

J.I.D was speaking in Rosebank, Johannesburg at Universal Music where the listening session of his album was held on Friday night.

J.I.D released the first DiCaprio in 2015. The name of the EP was an ode to his favourite actor Leonardo DiCaprio, because they both had been putting out quality work in their respective fields, but not receiving acknowledgement for it.

“I was like wow, he doesn’t have an Oscar [award] he’s one of the greatest, and he’s putting out quality work. So this time around, I got a record deal, know what I’m sayin’…due to all the hard work I was putting in. I got a deal, he got his Oscar and I’m like this is perfect timing,” J.I.D said.

J.I.D talking to the people. Photo by Sip The Snapper

The rapper whose real name is Destin Route, said there isn’t going be another DiCaprio album, despite his fondness for the Titanic actor. But what has Leonardo DiCaprio said about his name and legacy being celebrated in this manner by a rapper he doesn’t even know? Not much.

The only time Leo found out about J.I.D and his project, was briefly through Q.Tip when the Dreamville artist was at Tip’s house just three weeks ago to play him DiCaprio 2. Q.Tip sent Leo a video of himself and J.I.D, telling the actor about the young rapper and his project. “Leo texts back in 30 seconds ‘oh thanks Ima check it out when it comes out, but fuck that, are you coming to my party?’ he was talking to Q.Tip -he just changed subjects real fast, so I got a few words from Leo, he knows I’m alive,” said J.I.D which had the whole room in amusement.

J.I.D with Tumi Voster at the DiCaprio 2 listening session. Photo by Sip The Snapper

The trailer of the 14 track album was shown on the night, prior delving into the actual music. It was an intimate setting, with a manageable audience, who had opportunity to ask the J.I.D anything- the rapper even had time to take photos and have a moment with each of his fans after the listening session. The producer of Never, Underwear and some of J.I.D’s bangers, Christo was stationed behind the sound desk, playing each song on the album.

Most of us in the audience had already heard songs like Working Out, 151 Rum and Off Deez, in the months leading up to the release.

Explaining the track 151 Rum, J.I.D said the intro of the song was partly inspired by a doccie on mind control he watched recently “…it’s literally 20 tracks of me, my homies and home girls literally saying stuff that I want you to hear, I don’t know if you can hear it, but it sounds like a crowd chatter. What I learnt through the documentary, is that all that stuff feeds into your psyche.”

At first listen, the album goes in like a thong, with the trademark bass from Atlanta and with enough bop to accommodate J.I.D’s flow. The second track on the album, Slick Talk had everyone in the room at Universal Music in a craze, especially J.I.D’s second verse where he raps:
This the type of shit that have niggas in beef,
Dat slick talk followed by some stick talk then sleep,
Pissed off, I done took my fifth loss this week,
Big dog, I can scratch that shit off like flees,
I got a lot of shit to say, but I’ma keep my list short,
I know a lotta your favourites not gon’fuck with this part,
When I’m done, please know that I was trying to diss y’all,
‘Cause if this is competition, then I’m setting this bar,
In my city, who’s with me? I’m in my own lane Jack,
Nigga said “J.I.D so flame, I propane rap”
I’m from East Atlanta like Gucci and Travis Porter,
But my story is similar to the hare and the tortoise

FEELING HIS OWN BARS.Photo by Sip The Snapper

As he did before playing any track off the album, he broke down the story behind it. From the audience’s reaction, you would’ve guessed all types of drugs were being freely given out like candy after he explained what Off da Zoinkys is about. Zoinkys represent drugs, whichever your preference. The joint is a sample from a Rick Ross track, 3 Kings Feat. Dr. Dre and Jay-Z.

Y’all niggas need to lay off the drugs,
Some of y’all need to lay off the dope,
My niggas getting it straight off the boat,
Pure cut, put it straight to your nose,
I ain’t nosy, but I know what I know,
Mr. Know it all, oh here he go
I’m the GOAT, I never go with the flow,
Throwing shots boy, blow for blow,
I’m the nigga that kick the do’ with the dough

There was a brief unfeigned moment of sadness when J.I.D said Mac Miller was the one who arranged Skrawberries, which was produced by J.Cole, with Masego on the horns. The love song features BJ The Chicago Kid and was supposed to have a verse from Mac-after listening to it, I couldn’t resist the thought of Mac’s hoarse voice on the beat. The album has a fair number of features, some which are unexpected. Like Hot Box with Joey Bada$$ and Mehtod Man- you’d swear all three are native New Yorkers in how J.I.D doesn’t spit like a kat from Atlanta.

J.I.D was in the country for a week, spending some time in Cape Town and at the Kruger National Park. He cried immediately after landing from his flight from China. But what stood out was his sense of black pride and his soul’s satisfaction with being on the continent for the first time. “My whole message is about black plight bro, it’s about being a descendent slave…”

“I cry like a little baby bro, facts. Just because it was so beautiful, I didn’t expect this shit to look like this; they don’t teach us this shit in school, they don’t tell us about how beautiful this is, they only give us the negative. I’m not opposed to anything, I’m just super pro black. I fuck with all races, the minorities and the majorities, but at the same time I’m about this shit right here (pointing to his skin).”

DiCaprio 2 officially came out yesterday, a day after J.I.D performed at an event in Joburg, which Masego was supposed to headline too but was stranded in Europe.


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7min180

I’m one of those people who, whenever I have a new clothing item, I wear it out. Chances are, I’ll be in this new piece whenever you see me. Maybe it’s an addictive personality I have, or I plainly do not have a big enough collection in my closet.

I’m like that with music too.

Whenever I have a strong connection with a song, it never leaves my playlist as my favourite clothes never depart my body. I just liked the Tribe joint on the new Bas album, Milky Way. On the track he features his boss, J.Cole.

It’s this love song, which celebrates their partners, that hasn’t allowed the chance for other tracks on my playlist. The song is my definition of a feel-good Hip Hop joint, the hook is catchy, the beat has sufficient bounce and the rappers are in pocket.

This is Bas’s third album, after his 2016 release Too High to Riot. Singed under Cole’s Dreamville Company, Bas is part of stable of ill new-age emcees led by Cole. He isn’t the best lyricist as J.I.D or Cozz, but Bas can make good music. Feel good music.

The Queens, New York native is in a good place in life and that’s the general feel of the album. It’s celebratory and affectionate. I can’t say there’s great improvement or growth from the previous album. But like his previous work, there are songs with definite replay value. The similarities between the albums is frighteningly palpable.

One of my favourites, Barack Obama Special could fit well on his previous project. The tone of his voice, sounds good on sad, laid back music.

The rapper sounds apprehensive as he has self-introspection on Barack Obama Special, talking about his successes and the challenges he goes through as an artist in the industry, taking care of his family and his boys and all that comes with where he is, in life right now.

His flow is monotonous, which limits him to doing other things with his voice. Also, I get the sense that he’s a bit of a lazy writer or just economical with his bars. But it’s bothersome because you never quite get enough of who he is on his tracks. On Tribe, I think he should’ve spit another verse after Cole.

For a Sudanese young black person, born in Paris, raised in Queens, who was addicted to drugs and now is touring the world from rapping-I expect more colourful stories from him. That’s the growth I felt this album lacked. Gets to a point where it sounds like interlude music. A stronger Bas on the raps and storytelling, could be the equivalent of an Isaiah Rashad.

What Bas did differently in this project though, is his beat selection or just the incorporation of House or up tempo beats on some tracks. Not being a House fan, you can’t begin to imagine my irritation, brought by those few tracks.  I was livid when Spaceships + Rockets came on. I thought someone sneaked in and added shit to my playlist. But annoying as it was, I think Moe Monks and MOma+Guy vocals are killer dope.

His choice of features was spot on. Stablemate Ari Lennox on Icarus was just fresh as the air in the early hours of the morning on the song. A$AP Ferg is killing the features this season, he seems to serve his purpose on every track he’s on and does so on Boca Raton.

The album is a good listen, but I will stop frequently jamming it like I do with wearing my newly found clothing item, when it doesn’t excite anymore. But I will definitely go back to it once in a while.

 


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9min501

Every living human being has a soul. In each of us, there’s a something viewed as immortal and defining of our character and who we are. Now what I’m curious about, is whether we as society still think white people do not have soul?

All my life, I’ve observed the rhetoric that white people are lacking when it comes to soul. In the arts and even in sport. I grew up understanding that a white soccer player could not have the same rhythm and be pleasing to watch on the field as Doctor Khumalo or Steve Lekoelea. Yes, they played the beautiful game with more than just there’s limbs but also with soul.

The idea of black people being the gatekeepers of soulfulness stems from the 1950s in the US. Because of artists such Aretha Franklin, who recently demised, James Brown and Sam Cook whose music was highly emotive and equally spiritual. Soulful artists have the conviction of Gospel and the suave and agony of Rhythm and Blues. Most of their voices were moulded at a church somewhere. Incorporated with soul-food, you get a vivid idea that soul and black culture go hand-in-hand. Abo darkie are the archetypal of soul. But in the last few years we’ve seen a growing number Caucasians who have soul.

Tom Misch, JFK, Jamie Isaac, Mac Miller and Jordan Rakei- who will be performing at this year’s DSTV Delicious Festival- are talented artists changing the status quo. J.Cole touched on this in his track Fire Squad.

History repeats itself and thats just how it goes

Same way that these rappers always bite each others flows

Same thing that my nigga Elvis did with Rock n Roll

Justin Timberlake, Eminem, and then Macklemore

While silly niggas argue over who gone snatch the crown

Look around my nigga white people have snatched the sound

This year I’ll prolly go to the awards dappered down

Watch Iggy win a Grammy as I try to crack a smile

I’m just playin’, but all good jokes contain true shit

These are heavy lyrics by Cole which were misunderstood by the public when the song came out. But it leads one to the question, are white people truly snatching black culture? I believe as black people we don’t mind, when other races immerse themselves in our various and interesting cultures-we’re too sharing to be that petty.

What irks us most, is someone who does not give credit to those who created the culture which they love because it has given them so much. Black people want and need to be acknowledged for the great that they are.

It’s no secret that Elvis Presley was the counterfeit King of Rock ’n’ Roll while the original King was Chuck Berry and that Eminem is a great rapper but his whiteness has been a huge contributor to his success.  It’s no problem when someone of Em’s stature gets love and recognition, but it was disappointing when someone who makes gibberish as Macklemore won a Hip Hop Grammy award instead of Kendrick Lamar.

But it was inevitable that things would be like this, since the world is getting smaller and is free of segregation, apartheid and other wack laws which made it difficult for people all over the world to exchange cultures. Should we as black people take offense that other races immerse themselves in black culture? Not at all, we should take pride in it. A case in point is South African music legend Johnny Clegg who made great Mbaqanga music, but could never be compared to one of the gods of the genre Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens. The latter were a collective of a black king and queens who made music for everyone but never, not for one second, lost touch with their blackness. They owned it…and were still cool with Mr Clegg enjoying some of it too.

The likes of RJ Benjamin and Kid Fonque are known for their inclination to music with soul, which people of their own race don’t often appreciate as darkies do.  RJ Benjamin has proved time and time again with his albums, production and the people he’s worked with that he’s a soulful kat whose name you wouldn’t find on a line-up, next to Kurt Darren and Steve Hofmeyr. While Kid Fonque’s show alone, on 5FM would sit well on afropolitan radio station Kaya FM because it’s not limited to the generic electro sound that’s synonymous with white fellas and girls. But his House music is soul satisfying, not just focused on burning my calories on the dance floor.

I know black people who’ll say white people can have all the soul they want, including our dance moves, if they give us all their wealth.  Fortunately things aren’t that simple. We cannot and should not sell ourselves, instead we should own our culture, share it with the rest of the world whilst finding ways to preserve it so that it doesn’t get gentrified and become something we can barely recognise.


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6min1361

J Cole’s previous studio album is trash. This is the objective truth. Thus I was anxious when social media exploded with the news that Cole was releasing a project on April 20, thee high holiday for all them bummy ass stoners in the world.

His new project is better than good, but it isn’t good enough for an artist as successful and as talented as J Cole. His vexing insistence on not having any features in his projects and not using anybody outside the Dreamville record label limits the impact and the quality of his work. For example on the title track, KOD, the hook could have been better served by a happy trapper, like Young Thug or Lil Wayne.

“…When Cole tries to go pop, he simply can’t not pull it off by himself…”

Even though the production of the song is good, it would have been fire with a more experienced trap producer behind the decks. On the up side, Cole’s lyrics on the song are supreme, coming at you harder than Jacob Zuma on top of one of his friend’s daughters. That is the general vibe on this album when Cole tries to go pop, he simply can’t not pull it off by himself. It’s not within his nature to make music for these happy go lucky millennials. It’s evident on songs like ATM, Motiv8 and Kevin’s heart. Like any recovering addict will tell you, denial is the first step and people don’t change unless they want to change and I feel like Cole is in denial. No amount of amount of social media politicking is going to change his mind about the no features policy, we just have to trust he will come to the light himself.

On the flip side of things, the song Brackets is a beautiful sober meditation on tax and how the US government misuses his hard earned money to serve their own agendas. Ignoring the plight of the poor minority and in some instances fuelling it. J Cole is in the pocket when he is giving you his honest opinion about certain issues on top of a boom bap inspired beat. On the track 1985 Cole condescendingly addresses new age rappers, giving them advice about the music industry and life in general without sounding too preachy, it is a masterpiece of a joint. So is photograph ,The cut off and once an addict.

This project is an improvement by Cole relative to his last one. His exploration of emotional pain is not deep but it is profound and necessary. It is an anecdote aimed at contemporary youth culture and its obsession with narcotics. Showing the youth that one needs to find a healthier way to deal with their emotional baggage or face the consequences of carelessness. Sonically though there is a lot of room for improvement and I hope Cole realises that. But I am not hopeful considering how much commercial success the project has received already. He has a loyal fan base which sticks by him no matter what, enabling him to ignore his drawbacks and continue as if ‘he is the man of these streets…’ How’s that for healthy choices.

Image Source: DJ Booth



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