Release: Out now
JJ Doom’s album reminds me of the California coast. It shouldn’t. It’s a predominantly British sounding album, from the British-born (but by-and-large American) DOOM to the Anglophile production. It’s a lot more sonically diverse than what passes for hip hop. By and large, the album spends a solid third of its time in Blur territory – and by Blur I mean the band. This should come as little surprise to anyone who has paid any attention DOOM’s collaborator on this album, a certain Jneiro Jarel, who has shared the stage with everyone from TV On The Radio to Jay-Z to, yes, Blur’s Damon Albarn.
It reminds me a little of Fugazi’s “The Argument” album in that “Key To The Kuffs” tracklisting is all over the place but as a cohesive statement it stands far taller than the sum of its parts. It’s a hip-hop answer to the question “what the fuck” long after Ceelo Green stopped being a sexual gummmy-bear from Mars and started becoming just another rotund music judge on a talent show.
It has its faults: “Viberian Sun” seems to think that it owes some sort of cosmic debt to the late, great J-Dilla yet spends 3 minutes doing nowhere. “Wash Your Hands” is a solid song but seems tacked on at the end of the album. Indeed, the first half of “Keys To The Kuffs” is unstoppable yet the back half seems largely, at the least, unorganized, and at the most, tacked-on.
There should be more albums like this, though. It actually suggest that there’s a life outside of the swagger-dungeon that has taken control of much of hip-hop. There’s very little posturing here, especially from DOOM, who has rarely sounded better, but one can’t help but wonder what this might have been with a little more time and a little more scope. It’s the album equivalent of a wonderful main course: on it’s own, it is pretty damn perfect, but it leaves you wondering what else could have been paired with it.