Earlier this year, Jackie Chain released the spins-inducing After Hours, a project driven by woozy synths and recreational pill popping anecdotes. Last week’s release, Bruce Lean Chronicles, reproduces much of the same—though a willingness to step outside of the seedy nightclub ambiance this time presents the Huntsville, Alabama rapper as more than his reckless party boy reputation would lead you to believe.
The Diplo-produced “First Love” is an amazingly clever ode to marijuana that only subtlety reveals itself as Chain recalls his first 8th grade encounter, to the difficulties arisen once the love affair made the turn into an across-state-lines business relationship. Chain’s able to hang with the South’s finest on “Parked Outside,” a wood grain gripping ode to Chevy impalas and Cadillacs alongside Big K.R.I.T. and Bun B.
“Road Less Traveled” is the hangover to nights depicted in After Hours, where Chain admits, “Looking for answers at the bottom of the bottle, drowning my sorrows, not worrying about tomorrow.” The somber track rings true: a sobering look at a rapper who’s been relegated to label purgatory since the disbandment of Universal Motown last year.
Chain’s probably still at his finest when in party mode (club tracks “Johnny Depp,” and “Numbers,” are undeniably fun), but getting below the surface layer of Jackie Chain comes as a welcomed change of pace. Last year, he saw his fellow statesman Yelawolf break out with his studio debut, Radioactive. Chain looks to do the same as he continues to fight for the release and proper push of his debut LP, I Ain’t Slept In Weeks. Bruce Lean Chronicles will only help his case. —Neil Martinez-Belkin (@Neil_MB)