20 Aug 2019
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JCK - Album Review: Input/Output

25 Aug 2018 // A review by Corinne Rutherford

Kiwi hip-hop artist JCK has just dropped a mean double album. Input/Output is 19 tracks of varying styles of hip-hop and rap which should be enough to satisfy even the most discerning hip-hop connoisseur. 

JCK is a song writer, rapper and producer with a flair for the dramatic and theatrical. He constantly pushes boundaries with lyrics, repeatedly evolving and morphing his music and persona whilst staying true to his hip-hop roots. He certainly hasn’t been flying under the radar, with five full length albums, numerous collaborations including the very popular Freak In The Club with Lou Ludbrook back in 2004, The rapping voice of Benvolio in the movie musical remake of Romeo and Juliet along with varying shades of success in the UK and USA. He has also had tracks and videos play listed on Alt TV, C4 and Juice TV. Google has a wealth of knowledge about JCK as does YouTube if you want to delve deeper.

Part of JCK’s appeal is the originality and unique spin he puts into his music and videos. Cartoon like animations and ghoulish mascots. Gothic hip-hop and rock-rap originals through to almost note perfect covers as in the case of David Bowie's Ashes To Ashes on his recently released gothic rock album Glass.

That’s my synopsis of his back story. Let’s get on with the task at hand… what does Input/Output have in store for us beautiful people? As JCK has been quoted saying “I’m not interested in being cool, I’m interested in being interesting”.  
 

His creative flare is to be admired. I won’t lie, his music can be polarising there is no sugar coating on some of these lyrics. Even for the open-minded individuals that lurk among us, a few of the tracks on this album will give you food for thought. Launching straight into it with track one, disc one hip-hop Marauders (Feat. Dr Apocalypse & Diss “N” Kiss). I won't pretend to be the all knowledgeable mastermind when it comes to rap or hip-hop, so I will describe this as gangsta rap from the 90’s given a hip-hop beat. And move on.

As you move through the early stages of the album, you can hear what is called old school (way back in the 90’s possibly 00’s) “bass heavy hip-hop”. There was a good amount of bass for my liking. No shortage of shock value and the rap style lyrics are cleverly delivered throughout.

Super Heavy Rap Shit featuring Pakkz The General and Alpha (with a guest appearance from Rip Jaw), is the first single accompanied by a video on the album. As I have previously stated, it is an honest, raw and intelligently mixed fast rap which pulls no punches. This track has a clean engaging beat that hooks you in immediately with a signature JCK flavour on visuals.

Track number eleven Long White Cloud (Trump Edition), has a political message delivered straight to the point. This also has a video which is a combination of graphics and real people; he nukes them at the end any way. Fair enough.

And then because it is essentially a double album there was the flip side.

Troll kicks off round two of the double album; it is like an ongoing musical feast. This track has a rock vein pulsing through it and gives you a sense that the rest of this album is more rock and less rap. Although what it is, is a marriage of the two. A clever fusion of hip-hop, rock and something that sounds like Rob Zombie, goth/rock maybe… whatever it is it sounds bloody great. Fascinating, polarising, creative and captivating. He can sing, I mean not just rhyme; he has impressive deep vocals which wouldn’t be out of place in a grunge metal band and is perfect for rap metal.

There are some moments as with Fresh, which I heard his Slim Shady shine through, but he gives it a unique Kiwi sound.

James manages to pull off an excellent rendition of Grace Jones' Night Clubbing, yet again pretty darn close to the original.

Park After Dark is slick rhymes with a fast bass tempo and a storyline which will give you goosebumps.

My favourite track on Input/Output was towards the end of the album, track eight Devils Hall. This is pure genius, it shows off that unique gothic style JCK has developed a name for. A rapping Marilyn Manson or Rob Zombie of the NZ hip-hop fraternity, this is what I love - unique, dark and very clever.

Input/Output has some pretty raw and sometimes coarse lyrics, but the rhyming and mixing on this album is exceptional. Each and every artist who worked on this album with JCK added their own flavour and character to the music. Personally, I preferred disc two, but that is because I am a big fan of Manson and Zombie, add a bit of drum and bass into the mix and it is taken to a whole new level. The whole album is solid and substantial; it showcases JCK’s diverse talent as a musical artist. It is an album without a huge budget or big named labels behind it, yet somehow he has managed to pull off a slick, polished sound which gained my admiration not only for his writing and mixing skills but also his pure tenacity and hard work at making all the music video graphics as well. There is true skill behind his musical talents and sometimes brutally honest lyrics.

2018 see his most accomplished work with Input/Output. In other words, it’s firkin dope, man.

 

★★★★ (5 stars)


Review written by Corinne Rutherford

 

About JCK

New Zealand Hip-Hop artist JCK is all about creativity and originality. Gothic imagery, catchy well crafted songs and captivating music videos set JCK apart from the legions of look alike, sound alike Hip-Hop artists currently flooding the market.

"Most Hip-Hop artists seem to want to take you on the same journey with their music. That's usually a trip through the hood they grew up in. It's like the hoods getting over crowded with rapper tour guides. I might take you to the hood for a quick look around, but only on route to the carnival"

JCK is a multi instrumentalist as well as a rapper and singer. He produces his own music and even films, directs and edits his own music videos.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for JCK

Releases

Glass
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Input/Output
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Land of the Wrong White Crowd
Year: 2015
Type: Album
The Bees
Year: 2011
Type: Album
5 Year Anniversary
Year: 2007
Type: Album

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