Believe you me, the rest of Hip Hop is tired of it, too. All of the poppy R&B undertones and A-B-C rhyme sequences polluting the industry have to stop. But with 106 & Park getting higher Nielsen ratings than The West Wing, it won’t cease until something better comes around. Here’s hoping that the sound that’s been coming from Philadelphia over the past few years has a little staying power.
DJ Jazzy Jeff (who has worked with everybody from the Fresh Prince to the queen of millennium soul, Jill Scott) is one of the quiet leaders of the City of Brotherly Love’s musical revolution. Jeff‘s style is much like that of more renowned Philly brethren like ?uestlove–economic with the familiar samples and super generous with the more obscure Jazz beats. Think: A Tribe Called Quest confidently backed by Musiq.
The Magnificent — is he talking about himself or his sound?–doesn’t stray much from this theme. “For Da Love Of Da Game” is a groovy little number fronted by the sharp rhymes of Pauly Yamz and Baby Blak. “Worldwide,” featuring the same twosome, and “My People,” with the crooning Raheim, also work in a Roots/Bilal kinda way. Underrated emcee J-Live goes for his on two cuts, “Break It Down” and “A Charmed Life.” But the homogeny of pinpoint lyricism and sparse toe-tapping tones sounds best on the Pauly Yamz– and Chef-crushed “Know Ur Hood.”
Don’t get DJ Jazzy Jeff‘s easily-digested CD confused though; it ain’t just for Hip Hoppers. The laid-back producer has the light stuff for the ladies. The more eclectic stuff is there for the laid-back cats. And smooth, free-flowing tracks like Flo Brown‘s “Love Saviour” are there for everybody. Still, The Magnificent won’t make many year-end top ten lists. There are times when similar songs almost run together. What it will do, however, is make your overall confidence in music slightly stronger. That’s right. Will Smith‘s former buddy has made an album that cares more about keepin’ it real than being on TRL.