The J. Davis Trio offer their brand of Chicago hip-hop with a bit of jazz and funk, with their formula being an MC rhyming with the assistance of three musicians. These Things Happen (Yo Yo Smuggler) has a similar feel of hip-hop albums from the early 90’s, somewhat dark and grimy (and that’s more to method of recording and production) but not dull. Julio Davis is the MC and to me sounds like a mixture of Gift Of Gab and a more laid back Shock G.. It’s the kind of hip-hop you might expect at a coffee shop or intimate club, and you can hear how these guys may interact with each other in a live setting. A track like “Do You Mind if We Dance Wif You Dates?” (the title inspired from a line in the film Animal House has a creepy gangsta vibe that one could see in a Cypress Hill track if they brought Q-Tip or Common in the mix.
With real instrumentation, one might expect the obvious comparisons to The Roots, but I hear the J. Davis Trio as a band who sound as if they came before and after The Roots, as if they never crossed paths. That’s a good thing, because a lot of times, you have hip-hop bands who try bring in instruments and they either sound like copycats or a coffee left in the pot for a day or two. These guys aren’t weak, and could easily rank themselves alongside Brand New Heavies, Breakestra, and Crown City Rockers.
The dark and grimy feel also makes some of the tracks sound like demos, I would have preferred a more lively mix with a bit of brightness. At a time when every other person in music tries to use some kind of effect for their voice so that the special effect overshadows everything, you’re pretty much hearing Davis’ voice with minimal treatment, or at least “there’s absolutely no Auto-Tune.” These Things Happen may be nothing more than low-brow casualness, but it’s a way for them to also say “we have the goods, and we can prove it. Listen.” As you should.
(These Things Happen was originally released in 2007, but is being re-released on December 9, 2009. However, you can still purchase it through CDBaby by clicking on the appropriate icons below.)