J-Zone has been back into the game in small doses, but then again, maybe saying he’s “in the game” is not exactly true. He is simply making music just to feel good and for the second time this year, things must be good as he has released a new single. This one is called “Seoul Power” backed with “I’m Sick Of Rap”, with the latter being a rap track. The former has him playing drums and bass, along with a Moog, and he’s helped with some conga playing from Ray May. Originally he offered the 45 as a 2-for-1 deal, or “2 for the price of 1.55” as he states on the Bandcamp page but that offer is over. Nonetheless, you can buy the 45 or get this digitally, it’s a good record.
Considering how long the man has been making music, it’s hard to believe that J-Zone has only made one music video in his entire career. Which one? This one, “Gadget Ho”, from his latest album Peter Pan Syndrome (my review of which can be read by clicking here. How does he do? Damn well.
It has been awhile since the world last heard any music from J-Zone but in 2013, he has wiped off the dust and has returned with a new one called Peter Pan Syndrome (Old Maid Entertainment), and the mission this time around is an interesting one. As the title indicates, the running theme is that of a man who doesn’t want to be mature. Or to paraphrase the old Toys-R-Us commercials, “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a hip-hop kid”, but as J-Zone looks at a world with many years behind him and 40 slowly approaching, he begins to question everything and wonders if things are as they’re meant to be, not only for J-Zone the rapper, but Jay Mumford the man.
With an album cover that resembles a photo of a musician performing for the old King Biscuit radio show, time is the issue and of the essence throughout this album and the Syndrome in question is explored by creating songs that have the type of vibe experienced on countless hip-hop albums in the last 25 years. You have the sly and clever lines, the pop culture references, and the importance of humor that works on a number of levels. Along the way, we hear J-Zone talking with himself as a character who may be sitting on his shoulder, going through the motions and touching on the different things he should and shouldn’t be doing at this point in his life. You might hear subtle reference to De La Soul, Eazy-E, King Tee, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and other artists that also serve as acknowledgement to the roles they played in his life and perhaps his music. In this means of self-therapy he meets up with Breeze Brewin, Celph Titled, Has Lo, Chief Chinchilla, and Al Shid as they share their thoughts of the situation. There are tons of music industry references that are true for thousands of other artists that are in the same situation as him, but the primary issue can also be considered a metaphor for hip-hop music in itself. I’ve always felt that the music was split into two different entities, one went independent/underground realizing that the fame wouldn’t come their way but that if they believed in a bit of integrity, they would continue making what they loved because it felt good and genuine. The other half of hip-hop chose to stunt its growth to stay forever 12, which has been the source of the industry’s primary income of the last 20+ years. J-Zone makes a choice, but he also knows the consequences of the hip-hop multi-headed beast and proceeds to move forward.
The guy who made Music For Tu Madre 15 years ago is still with us but he is older, wiser, and stronger, and admits that the path has been bumpy. Peter Pan Syndrome serves as a guidebook for his career and his life so far, but in a genre where the age conditions were pre-determined by those who aren’t participating in the creation of the music itself, one has to deal with the forced myths of a shelf life and an expiration date. Once that date comes, then what? Does the rapper and the music become museum pieces like an old King Biscuit radio show photograph, or does one feel detached from it by leaving an important part of their lives behind them? It’s a dilemma for the oldsters and the oldsters to come, but for it to be addressed in this way is a reality check on something we can’t deny as we all walk slowly towards the inevitable, when chants of “and you don’t stop” will indeed stop. By focusing on specific eras and the emotions one experienced with the music, along with some of the tracks being of different lengths to where the interludes don’t feel as such, J-Zone has essentially created his Paul’s Boutique, or at least his own “B-Boy Bouillabaisse”. It’s his way of saying “this is me, this was me, and this is who I’ll always be”, regardless of where he goes from here.
Karniege will be releasing a proper debut album in 2010, but it hasn’t stopped him from working hard to get himself heard and known. Here’s a brand new mixtape, as part of the Can I Kick It series, and it’s free. Here’s the complete track listing:
01.) No Beginning (Produced By Karniege)
02.) Guess Who’s Back
03.) System Disrupt (Produced By Camu Tao)
04.) Check 1,2 (feat. L.T., Poison Pen & J-Zone) (Produced By Da Beatminerz)
05.) Hey Karni
06.) Spread The Word (Produced By Camu Tao)
07.) War Stories
08.) Kidz NYC (feat. Vast Aire) (Produced By Melodious Monk)
09.) Interlude (Produced By Karniege)
11.) Welcome To New York (Produced By Thanos)
12.) How We Do Over Here
13.) Bang Bang (feat. Double A.B & Access Immortal)
14.) Catwalk (Produced By Lostsun of Armyfatique)
15.) Jimmy Swagger (feat. Marq Spekt) (Produced By Khalid Salaam)
16.) Hard Times (Produced By Camu Tao)
17.) Spread The Word (Remix) (Produced By Lostsun of Armyfatique)
18.) War Stories (Remix) (Produced By J-Kingz)
Now take a listen.
Can I Kick It Vol. 2 (76.28mb)
It’s all about the tapes, the clots of Kleenex and toilet paper where the recording tabs used to be, it’s about taking your mom’s Michael Bolton cassingle and dubbing something over it so you had your own custom tape.
The legendary J-Zone speaks and shares his cassette collection with the world. The racks shown look very close to what I used for my CD’s.
To find out what J-Zone is doing, click to his official MySpace page.
April 21st is the day you’ll want to mark on your calendars. Almost a week after you’ve paid “the man”, Mr. Lif returns to record stores with a brand new album called I Heard It Today, and this one will be released on Lif’s own label, Bloodbot Tactical Enterprises.
Lif collaborated with a number of quality producers for the new one, including Headnotic of Crown City Rockers, Edan, J-Zone, Batsauce, Willie Evans Jr., and Therapy. Topically speaking, you know how Lif does it, and this album will be no exception as the lyrics are taken from today’s headlines, including a look at the current failure of the American economy and perhaps the failure of the black community.