Memorial weekend on IchLugeBullets.com: #2 – J-Zone’s active recording career
The second in a series of two posts over this pre-Christmas weekend paying tribute to two aspects of ILB culture that passed away in the previous seven days.
Officially, he’s termed himself “moving onto other things”. Technically, he hadn’t rhymed on a track (as himself, at least) since early 2007. In reality, he’ll probably still turn up to drop a few beats, a few mixtape spots, a podcast or whatever every now and then. But still, J-Zone’s further retirement from rap music is has made me pull the colon/open bracket face in real life.
Long-term ILB readers will know that hardly anyone writing about music today has stanned harder for Captain Back$lap than me. It’d also be fair to say that despite this mediocre review here, and this slightly better one here, I’ve never accurately managed to put why, according to last.fm, I’ve listened to more J-Zone than any other rapper in my life.
I probably can’t to be honest. I think the main reason is that I hate woman. If you wanted, you could probably dumb it all down into some kind of “west coast vibe, east coast attitude” explanation, or point out that anyone who follows in the footsteps of Eazy-E, Tim Dog and Suga Free is bound to produce a back catalogue worthy of listening to or… I think the only way to explain it is via MP3s. Enjoy the following 5:
The man suffered for his art at the start of his career. Not in terms of heavy effort I mean, but rather two of his earliest verses appear on albums by forgotten Mo Wax breakbeaters Runaways and Princess Superstar. I bet you’d forgotten that Beth Orton was on that one Princess Superstar album as well, right? Anyway, “The Zone Mission” is off Zone’s 2000 “Bottle Of Whup-Ass” EP, back before he discovered funk samples and when he was still rhyming over what sounds a lot like The Doors. He improved.
From the days when it was perfectly acceptable to see Danger Mouse in the street and not automatically attack him with a blade. Zone’s verse on this sounds like it was recorded through one of those £5 USB mics that have the same “stick to your desk” flat bottoms as novelty fuzzy-eyed gonks. “Ghetto Pop Life” always felt like the last hurrah of the original undie rap boom, regardless. Great album as well.
This is my favourite track on this list and possibly one of my thirty favourite songs from the decade so far. Zone has the best verse on here as well: “attitude getting worse and I ain’t even on a major” has long been the unofficial motto of ILB.
J-Zone’s “Gimme Dat Beat Fool” remix LP from 2005 is possibly the best example of his abilities as a beatmaker which, despite all the fur coat and pimpslap punchlines, is where he truly excelled. Effectively just a bunch of old ass rap acapellas featuring new beats and a verse from Zone, he actually managed to create a legitimate ”producer LP” with absolutely fuck all input from his so-called guests. The original MOP verses on “Stomp The Shit Out Ya” are fantastic enough as it is, but the denseness of the beat Zone lays behind them here, something akin to a NES platform game being played at full volume during an Eddie Bo concert, is truly stunning.
Opens with the phrase “You can lick my balllllllsssssss”, which is an starting phrase that could improve maybe 95% of all other songs ever. “Nut Reception”, which was ILB’s single of the year for 2007 fact fans, was taken from the mediocre “No Place Like Chrome” Apathy and Celph Titled dual album, which was a little heavy on spaceship rap and a little light on smack-a-bitchcore. This track nearly saved the thing on its own though: Zone’s never found a better play-off for his through-the-lips pitched voice than Celph Titled’s steady-bassness, and “bitch show loyalty like you work for ASCAP” is a fantastic line until you remember they’re called “royalties” not “loyalties”. If memory serves correctly, this was the last released track Zone rhymes on, with the exception of 2008’s “Live At Tha Liqua Sto” (no mp3s posted up of that, go and buy a damn copy).
And he’s throwing it all away in order to work mainly in journalism. That’s how bad the rap game has gotten now, people are willingly leave it to come and work in the same sphere as me. Poor, poor bastards.