Jason James & Rodney Hazard’s Latest Gets Reviewficated
Check your watches…
First things first…
I’ve been friends with Jason James, formerly known as “Web”, for about three years now. He’s one of the people I’ve managed to connect with thru this tiny piece of the internets that I call IATS.
Not only is dude a good friend, but he’s also a talented artist. I’ve followed his projects from “I’ll Be Alright” to “Inferno” to “God’s Favorites” to his series of weekly freestyles and snippets at KevinNottingham.com, to his most recent effort, Marvelous World of Color.
Some of his songs are personal favorites of mine. “Glow” and the “God’s Favorites Intro” have found their way into my Go Time Gym Mix, and have survived every round of deletion that’s occurred when songs cease to motivate me.
For this project, Messrs. James and Hazard are venturing into left field, but not so left field that the results are off-putting, i.e. being different just for the sake of being different. Also, while the sonic landscape is sparse and sometimes bleak, it’s more aurally appealing than similar attempts at creating a “wide-open plain” sensibility.
There are synths, there are non-traditional drums, but they are done creatively and musically, a feat that Senores 40, 1Da, and Graham were unable to successfully pull off.
Yes, I needed to say that.
So, before I get started, I just wanted to give that intro. This project, based on the few songs I’ve previewed before the album was out in full, is different, and dammit, I think it’s special.
Jason cares about rap, cares about hip-hop, cares about the world, and cares about bringing all of those elements together. He is an artist, and the best thing I can say about him is that he’s making for himself, and as a result, is making music for all of us.
Now let’s press play and see if his execution matches his vision and his noble intentions.
(before I get started, I must say that I’m listening to this thru my world famous One Headphone Because I’m At Work system, so no deductions will be made for anything off in the mix, or for the nuances in production.)
Track 1- “Enter: The Marvelous World”
Production is neat, gives off a less twangy “Get Your Freak On” vibe, and Jason’s rhymes are that raspy east coast flow that’s sorely missing in rap. Track is your basic intro track, and Jason’s delivery grabs you right away. Beat spazzes towards the end, but I like it.
Track 2- “The Architect”
Light, Music, Science, Sleep, and Time Travel in the spoken word intro. I’m not smart enough to understand it, but I make up for it with a pleasant disposition and a fragrant presence. Song’s very “Bone Thugs In 1996”-sounding, but I like that. No chorus, just clips of people discussing the world and music. Ballsy. So, in this one, Jason (and probably Rodney) is The Architect. I’m enjoying this song. It’s like the speaking clips are being kinda stern, but Jason’s vocals and verses are hopeful and gentle. I kind of love that.
Track 3- “Basic Instructions”
…Before Leaving Earth? I dig that. Percussion on this is interesting. I’m not sure what the instrument is in the background. I can’t really make out what the speaker is saying though. Blame it on the one headphone.
Track 4- “Great Escape”
This is more of a traditional-sounding hip-hop song, but the music over the drums continues the ethereal theme of the previous songs. Jason is dropping knowledge about politics, imperialism, and relating it back to day-to-day life. Cripes! He’s moidalizing the 2nd verse. Jason is riding the beat something fierce. If I knew how to rewind on this here band camp site, I’d have played it back. Methinks TAFKA Web is just warming up.
Track 5- “Fame Us”
Mmm. This song is bleak, and sad, and very novel-version-of-The Running Man-feeling. This song is absolutely brilliant, but it’s too sad. It’s a slight spoiler, but it’s all about the treatment of our female starlets. It’s not apologetic or painting the girls as completely innocent, but it’s about the exploitation of those women. The song is genius, but I never wanna hear it again. Too much truth in it. Moving on.
Track 6- “Better As You”
This one’s been around for a while. I forget which project this is from, but it’s an older Web song. Beat is new and, again, ties in sonically to the rest of the album. This is sort of a sequel to the previous song, only this time it’s going at the girls in real life who try too hard to be like the starlets. Sure, the shit looks fun, but those party girls usually never end up happy. That being said, for me, I’m neither here nor there on this one. It’s not bad, but I would skip this on multiple listens. Sorry, amigo.
Track 7- “If It Feels Right”
Track is very spacey-sounding. Even more so than the other ones. I’m enjoying the flow on this one. Jason’s delivery has been different on almost all of these. Lots of experimenting on delivery. Uh oh, booty-raps in the third verse. This one was just aight for me, dawg.
Track 8- “Ain’t Gotta Go Home”
I like this one a bit better. Talking to a girl. No drums for the first minute plus. Just some cool synths. This is dope. Nasty Lover Man Raps, but the songwriter in me appreciates how it’s done. This was cool. We’re back on track.
Track 9- “The Program”
Finally, a musical version of Omar Epps’ 1993 classic film about college football! Oh, wait, that’s not what this is. The beat on this is awesome. Start-and-Stop Flow from Mr. James. This might be my favorite song so far. This just sounds incredible. More knowledge droppin’, and again, this sounds amazing. Wow. Whoa… At the end of this is a clip of Bill O’Reilly, that useless right wing shitbag motherfucking hate’n’fear mongering dickless asshole. Bashing Muslims. So fucked up.
Track 10- “A View Of The World”
Tempo is picked up. Another dope-sounding beat. Jason is fired up. This is “my back is against the wall, time to fight back” rap. *sniffs* I smell another addition to my Go Time Gym Playlist! WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! I know this chorus! It’s from Inferno or God’s Favorites, or maybe one of the Nottingham songs! Either way, I love that fucking line, and now it’s a chorus! JUEPA! This track is awesome. Me gusta. And Ezekiel 25:17 at the end? This should’ve been called “Rey Will Love This.”
Track 11- “Back Again feat. Bryan Perry”
Up-tempo track. Sangin’! I like it. Nice break. No Benjamin Arce singing on this? Hu6mph.
Track 12- “Go”
Slower tempo, Jason’s flow is keeping up. I can’t rap to a slow beat to save my life, but dude is handling this expertly without using double-time as a crutch. This is definitely a sets-the-tone album. I can see people putting this on during a long “Need time to think” car ride. Thoughtful, reflective track.
Track 13- “Promised Land”
I like the guitar on this. This is more upbeat in terms of sand. The Bone Thugs vibe is back but without trying too hard to sound like Bone Thugs. Kind of outro sounding, even tho’ it’s not.
Track 14- “Exit: The Marvelous World”
Pianos to start. It’s a conversation with his Grandmother. This is sweet. I like it. This was sad but pretty.
After hearing the whole thing, the best thing I can about this is it’s like Inception: The Album. It took hearing the last track, tying it together with the first few songs…
You get the feeling that Jason is saying goodbye to a great deal of this stuff. He’s the kind of rapper that wants to save rap, the world, and the souls of innocents with every single song. This is one of his strengths as a human being and an artist.
In terms of commercial appeal, I can’t see most of these songs ever ending up on a billboard chart, but that’s the point. This music isn’t for the masses, it’s for the masses.
I dug the album. It’s like a movie that is intense to sit thru, that forces your mind to accept concepts that are unpleasant but should no longer be ignored. This won’t spin at your Saturday nite party, but it should be put on in the coming days of fall–those blustery days when the wistful and solitary of us stare out the window at the bare trees and grey skies and wish for the world to awaken.
Those of us that await a return to a marvelous world of color.
Marvelous World Of Color EPK: