The Jacka’s Bay area legacy is set in stone. A front runner of the hyphy movement – whose roots extend all the way back to C-Bo’s Mob Figaz – Jacka has been a fixture in the region. On We Mafia, the artist continues to prove his relevance albeit a few missteps. The Jacka’s bio is discussed almost as much as his music, and while his past gives his music a clear sense of validity, it doesn’t prevent it from being repetitive at times. While Jacka clearly knows his lane, We Mafia sounds like an upgraded Flight Risk.
The initial mistake of the album is Jacka’s failure to rap over the introduction. Equipped with a building beat, Jacka had the opportunity to set an unmistakable tone from the jump. Instead, the first few tracks suffer from either poor production like, “Moonlight” or status quo lyrics like “It’s the Jack.” Not until “Snow Covered Hands” does Jacka really demonstrate what has made him an independent smash. The track features a Fleetwood Mac sample, and The Jacka creates one of the more introspective tracks of his career. The track truly jumpstarts the project and Jacka seems to be in his comfort zone from that point on.
Lyrically The Jacka never ventures into memorable territory, but that isn’t to say the effort on We Mafia isn’t consistent. On “Play Ya Cards” he slaughters the best produced track on the album. The first six bars on the track are a stellar effort from the Oakland born emcee. “Tonight” sees Jacka sample another pop legend, Phil Collins, and creates some of his best work on the album. When he spits, “it’s trouble in here/how could I leave when the struggle is near” it captures the confliction of a lifestyle without glorifying the thug or gangster aspect. Instead it focuses on a loyalty that The Jacka clearly honors. Only the supremely dope “I Want it All” can even be mentioned in the same breath as “Tonight.” Equipped with another sick vocal sample, Jacka drops jewels that resonate with the listener well after the track ends. The second verse, which addresses the passing of Mac Dre, would be touching work by any elite emcee.
There are scattered failures throughout the project. “Hard Times” features the same sample of the Devin the Dude classic “Anythang.” It’s impossible not to compare the two, and The Jacka’s effort (while valiant) in the end doesn’t even come close. “Real Niggaz” feels more like an outtake than an effort that should have made the album. The poor hook and uninspired lyrics prevent it from ever being anything but a track that is skipped. Ultimately We Mafia ends up imitating its album cover. It shows a puzzle of the artist, and while it’s near completion, it’s still short a few pieces.