Friday, November 21, 2014

Tomorrow, Jupiter

Looking forward to the shift 
from intense to lucky, all of a sudden.

Everything's a sign of my astrology
- Rufus Wainwright, in Pretty Things

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Jesse Jagz oeuvre in four home-made albums

Jesse Jagz is one of my favourite musicians in the world.
He is called 'The Greatest' - how those rap monikers stick - and that name works fine, but each of his albums, even the first, makes you want to also crown him 'The Genius' for the beauty, breadth and inventiveness of his sounds.
a: Jag of All Tradez
My critique is that sometimes the albums are too good, too diverse, and fail to hammer home an overarching theme or round out a specific style.
Trust me to find something wrong with anything.
Indeed, the first album is titled Jag of all Tradez.  It is a platter of multiple, maybe three, newish styles, and the result is wondrous, and it is wonderful when you're doing the long drive or stuck in traffic and you have all these many beats and lyrics and amazements to accompany you, and even if the album is almost five years old, I still say get it now.
But artistically it is a tiny bit much.
Jesse, na too much talent dey worry you :) 
b. Jagz Nation Vol 1: Thy Nation Come
My publisher, SS at Kraft Books once told me that it's alright for a first album (well, a first poetry collection) to be more diverse, a little more episodic, more an introduction to the many facets of you, you know?  It was he who suggested I cut my gazillion poems into more than one collection, and that I would understand someday, so we went with about 40% of the initial set for Comrade.
After that, I understood, and produced progressively 'tighter' collections in theme and style, so that following the sort of this is me, this is my struggle, this is us, this is what we love, range of Comrade, and still I really love Comrade :)
the next collection Yalla! is about places and travel, with a friendship section tacked on.
Then Big Girl and Big Boy would be loved by any boy, or any girl, each book being at the intersection of romance and this awkward economic situation of being elite in a land full of poor people.
The latest book, Monsters, is really just about Monsters, i.e. fear and loathing.  Preview Monsters.  
Tracklist for Thy Nation Come
Jesse's work too has evolved nicely in this regard.  Even from their titles, you can tell that the next two albums have more definition.
There is 'Thy Nation Come' which is very reggae-and-marijuana-inspired;
followed almost immediately by 'Royal Niger Company' named after the colonial-era trading company that became Nigeria.  He introduced RNC as a gift to the fans (ohmygodd free download, out of the blue) that serves up a little bit of history.
c. Royal Niger Company
Anyway,  I sliced and diced his three albums and created four collections that offer this enhanced thematic / stylistic coherence that I love.  Here they are. 

1a. Take Over (ft. Ice Prince) 2a. Greatest 3a. Jesse Swag 4a. Jargo I (ft. Jago) 5c. Jargo III (Ain't Nobody, ft. Tesh Carter and Chaka Khan) 6c. Louis 7b. God on the Mic 8b. International 9a. Pussy Cat 10a. Chocolate 11a. Dis Jagged Life (ft. Lindsey) 12a. Nobody Test Me (ft. MI and Ice Prince) //

1a. Number One 2a. Intoxicated (ft. Wizkid and Soul E) 3a. Shorty (Wine For Me) 4b. Where You At? 5a. Pump It Up 6a. L-O-V-E-U 7c. Sunrise (Shine On) 8c. Supply and Demand 9c. The Case (ft. Show Dem Camp) 10b. Steady Going 11a. My Brother 12b. Pedal to the Floor //

1b. Intro 2b. Burning Bush 3b. Desire 4b. Redemption 5b. Mamacita 6b. Sex and Scotch 7b. Sativa (Skit) 8b. Sativa 9c. The Window (ft. Jumar) 10a. Inhale Out (ft. Skales) 11b. After Party 12b. Bed of Roses (ft. James Mavrik) 13b. Selassie //

1b. Jargo II (ft. 9ice) 2c. High Life (ft. Rexx) 3c. Sunshine (ft. Fela A Kuti) 4c. Oceans and Lakes (ft. Sarah Mitaru and Dugod) 5a. Wetin Dey 6a. Sugar Cane Baby 7a. Bend Down Low 8x. Murder Dem 9c. The Search (ft. Jumar and Dugod) 10b. Bad Girl (ft. Wizkid) 11x. Las Gidi Grinding 12c. How We Do (ft. Tupac) //

What the albums are about
1. The Greatest - Rap is about building yourself up with praise.  Like a good oriki, it makes you feel good-and-confident. Now What's My Name?
2. LOVEU - Baby, I love you, so wind your behind for me.  Holy Album Sales! 
3. Thy Nation Come - Jah-consciousness.  I just murdered Bob Marley.
4. Royal Niger Company - The new sound of the tropics.  I just murdered Fela. 

Complain in the comments section.  
Advertisement: Read my booksThere is an extended, rather traditional, oriki poem in Big Boy, with a name oriki, twin oriki, and town/clan oriki.  Yoruba people have been doing for (centuries?) this swag-a-brag thing that rappers do all day. 

One day I will write more about
- oriki (re-mi-do)
- thematic unity (in my lecture series on creativity