Jake One came to my attention in 1998 with the stellar (and obscure) ’World Premier’ and ‘One Man Band’ 12’s on Canadian indy label Conception Records. Like 99% of beat makers from the late 90’s indy era he looked all set to languish in critically acclaimed obscurity, fated to be feted only by indignant, aging backpackers.
Fast forward ten years and he’s effectively living the dream, having been taken under Dr Dre’s assumedly large and well furnished wing as part of the G Unit production team. The boy done good. But it’s a testament to his history in the game that the first single from his first proper LP surfaces not on G Unit or Aftermath but Rhymesayers, a label that couldn’t be further from the glossy , commercial vibe of his recent exploits. So what does it sound like?
‘The Truth’ is a listenable if pedestrian affair featuring Freeway and Brother Ali. It would fall into the category of Radio Thug if such a category were to exist. Flipside ‘Trap Door’ steps it up featuring Doom over a solid drum loop, a wicked bass driven rhythm and dope guitar flourishes. ‘Hurt’ is an unusual listen altogether boasting a fractured, cheery beat that kind of works and doesn’t at the same time galvanised only by blinding vocals from Pharoahe Monch and Kardinal Offishall.
This is by no means the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard and have no idea what the album sounds like, but Jake has a knack for making rappers from different worlds seem comfortable on his beats. Listening to this you forget, just for a second, how wide the schism between underground and mainstream Hip Hop is these days. And for that, Jake One, I salute you.
By: Max Weldon