A couple months back Jean Grae posted a Myspace bulletin saying she was retiring. Truthfully, I felt her on that shit. She hasn’t had a steady stream of music come out in a long time, and god only knows what she’s been doing for the past few years. Hip-hop was sort of in a weird place back in 2004, when her last official album, This Week, dropped. Four years later, the underground hipster sect that she’d been appealing to for years is overrun by lackluster artists whose stylish kaffiyehs and retro clothing make up for their lack of skills… *sigh* What’s an act like Jean Grae, who’s probably the most criminally slept-on female rapper in history, to do?
Well, according to Rob Harvilla at The Village Voice, she’s not retiring… just yet. And this week her long-delayed album Jeanius, hit stores. It’s almost entirely produced by 9th Wonder (or maybe it is entirely produced and wikipedia is wrong, who the fuck knows, i downloaded the shit, sue me), and it’s common knowledge to Jean fans that the album leaked around the same time This Week dropped in ’04. I never downloaded it back then. Not that I didn’t want to, but I just have this weird thing about downloading shit that artists never intended people to hear. Plus everything I read with her talking about it, she seemed upset that the album leaked. Blacksmith Music is releasing Jeanius through their situation at Warner Bros, and I don’t even think she’s happy about that either, despite what she says. Supposedly there were some issues with the “Love Thirst” video being out there like that, who knows what’s what these days. Internet is a confusing place.
But for as discontent as she seems about everything, Jeanius is a great piece of work. Consider the fact that I’m hearing it like most people who didn’t download it would hear it, four years after it was created. The production doesn’t sound very current, in fact it sounds like some mid-90s soul bap, which is basically what 9th Wonder has been doing for most of his career. So it’s pretty routine for him. But that sound is timeless, so whether you’re hearing it in ’04 or ’08, it’s still going to sound good, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Of course there’s that requisite 9th Wonder snare that everyone hates with a passion, although I never understood the hatred for it. It’s a snare drum, get over it. It’s more about the chopped samples/melodies than the drums. What I do like is the overall sound of the LP, how each track flows into the next one, creating a good consistent vibe. It’s music for the sake of making music, not music for the sake of making “this” type of record and “that” type of record. Beats and rhymes, that’s it. Not a perverse concept, but not one that many seem to be able to pull off well these days.
Jean Grae= “don’t rush me”
Jeean Grae ft. Phonte- “the time is now”
bonus: Jeanius original samples set