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Jdubs - 'The Keynotes' Album Review

14 Apr 2010 // A review by River Tucker

Jdubs - The Keynotes CD Review

Jdubs is Ben James along with Charles Kickens, Pacific Heights and P-Money with Shapeshifter's Devin Abrams mixing and producing much of the content for the release on his Truetone record label brings you 'The Keynotes', a CD of quality Hip Hop featuring the vocal talents of MC Aeries, Sacha Vee and Lisa Tomlins.

I like the packaging for this CD. The Scrabble title, subdued colours and hand written text making a good statement; I don't need to be loud to stand out.

Track One is short but sweet and entitled 'Introjuice' with political samples to make you think. Scratching stabs are effective.

Track Two 'Ubii' has cool head nodding laid-back beats with uplifting rap and dulcet female chorus lines that give the song scope. Ah!

Track Three 'What You Want' steps up a level holding true to the Hip Hop format. Good to see the genre going so strong. I liked the Nightrider hi-hats at the end.

Track Four '12 Roses' is an interlude of violin samples and vocal stabs.

Track Five 'Buttajazz' has lovely Piano with tight rap and straightforward back beats. Lyrics are well delivered with a positive message. The chorus line mixed hot works well, this song perhaps the most commercially viable on the album.

Track Six 'Boxes' is the epitome of chilled out Hip Hop, with a crisp maraca taking the place of the hi-hat cutting back in time with the rapping. There's an interesting reversed oboe sample holding the melody together. Massive!

'The Keynotes' CD has relaxed jazz influenced Hip Hop where you can hear everything that's going on. Most suited to chillin on a Sunday afternoon or driving to the coast with the windows down and the sounds up.

Track Seven 'Jacks Interlude' is another short track which is my favourite on the album taking the laid back music into the realms of the spiritual. Phat beats are interspersed with jazz flute and funky bass, plus nice rests and vocal/sneer interplay. Choice!

Track Eight 'Pages' has some sweet chords and muting on guitar with scatting rap which is a bit more in your face, great lines like "I relax and speak from my soul" being a catch phrase for the idea behind the whole album if you ask me.

Track Nine 'Got That' didn't really work for me.

Track Ten 'Butter Jazz Reprise' reminds me of waking up in the morning, easy and warm. Seriously talented piano and violin samples are wicked!

Track Eleven 'Smuffle' is brief but effective in its intro for the next track.

Tasty record scratches at times give this CD a retro feel. There's definitely a well produced New Zealand flavour overall which is really nice to hear as well as a decent dollop of political commentary. These guys aren't trying to be like anybody else though or copying American Hip Hop, although there are hints of some of the best styles in the genre throughout.

Track Twelve 'Lifeline' brings out the alternate beats touched on by previous tracks. Skilled rhymes hold the beat down.

Track Thirteen 'Spaceworm' is written and produced by P-Money and gives a good style change to the CD. Rhyme phrasing fits perfectly and lyrical content is excellent. Much appreciated.

Track Fourteen 'Yesturday' has slightly darker melody lines and slow beats. This interlude song softly melds the mind into mellow euphoria.

Track Fifteen ending the CD on a high note and is aptly titled 'Outrojuice'... yum!

There's no killer hooks which has its own charm. Beats and song pauses work expertly into the rhymes, which is where the strength of this CD lies. Levels are perfect with superb rapping, samples, composition and excellent effects throughout. If you want to see where NZ Hip Hop is at, go out and buy 'The Keynotes' by Jdubs today.

Reviewed by River


About Jdubs

JDubs - aka Ben James - began making music at just 13, MCing and eventually hosting RDU's $ Mix hip-hop show before catching the attention of Shapeshifter's Devin Abrams.

The breakthrough came when he was offered a spot alongside partner-in-rhyme MC Aeries on Devin's third solo album as Pacific Heights.

Dubs' work impressed, and now comes his crafted release out on Shapeshifter's record label, Truetone. JDubs uses music as a tool to gently but powerfully push a message of love and forgiveness - with a view to waking people up to the system that controls the way they think, feel and act.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Jdubs


The Keynotes
Year: 2010
Type: Album

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