(Editor's note: Vince is lazy. He's doing something called "vacation." He's also doing something called "not planning ahead for Please Jam and leaving James to talk to himself." In lieu of actually listening to these songs, he's just dropping random, intermittent, no-knowledge comments amid James' actual analysis. All jelly, no jam.)
"Drug Sh!t" – Action Bronson
JAMES: Action has been featured quite often on Please Jam, for no other reason than everything he puts out consistently hits a mark. It doesn’t hit “the mark” for me, but that’s something different for every person. But Bronson, almost every time, produces a quality track with some good bars, a couple of double-take worthy bars, a food reference or two, plus something to make me chuckle. He is the quintessential Please Jam artist because his songs are usually fresh enough to present, run their course, and get replaced by his latest. I don’t know if he’s ever really blown me away but he doesn’t disappoint often either. Plus, he promoted his mixtape at a senior center. I’m a fan.
He also works with some pretty good producers. I’m not very familiar with DJ Slim, who cooked up this bad boy for Bronson, but he’s working on a Nas remix album that I’m looking forward to. He released a Nas x J. Cole mix earlier in the week called,“The Definition.” I’d have added it to PJ but you haven’t been a fan of some of these mixes. I’m down though. It’s definitely worth a listen. (Vince note: I used to abhor Bronson, dismissing him as a Ghostface-impostor. You can't deny his charisma, though.)
"Ain't Got No Love" – Willis Earl Beal
JAMES: Willis Earl Beal is a singer from Chicago with some pipes. His upcoming album, Nobody Knows comes out next week, but his full album stream is available here. He posted a live version of “Ain’t Got No Love” last week.
Beal is a genuine talent and he hooked me with his slightly antagonistic views towards society and capitalism, as he hints at before this song. His experiences make him the ultimate Blues singer in the 21st century. He was discharged from the military following serious medical issues that kept him in a hospital for five months, then spent time looking for odd jobs around New Mexico, without a home for much of his time in the Southwest.
He eventually got signed thanks to flyers he left around while looking for a girlfriend and recording music to CD-Rs. Now, his talent has a direction, and more importantly an album on which to shine. I don’t know how ready American youth is for a Blues singer with legitimate pipes and gripes, but Beal sings songs for the modern age and I hope the message gets across.
"Too Hot For Summer" – The Lox
JAMES: First, how awesome must it be to have enough money to just do your own version of The Hangover for a music video that involves getting a fake Mike Tyson tattoo? Especially when it doesn’t seem to have any relevance to the actual song. That, and the Zimmerman/hell line, basically sum up why I put this on Please Jam. You put that kind of work in and I will recognize it. Guaranteed. (Vince note: Everyone of the Lox emcees can still get busy. I want a Jadakiss album, though.)
"Musician" – Homeboy Sandman
JAMES: Homeboy Sandman has been on his grind since dropping out of law school in 2007, putting out four album and fives tapes. This is the latest from his latest tape, which he called one of his favorite tracks ever. I’m not well versed with Homeboy, but I’m enjoying this one. He’s got a strong flow and I’m usually down with minimalist beats. These two blend especially well.
The subject matter is interesting. He prefers to be called a musician instead of a rapper, or at least got hung up on the differences. It’s interesting, though, that hip-hop artists are the easiest to classify (and, to some, dismiss) as a “rapper.” How would you describe Adele, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison? Singers? Rock Stars? Guitar players? (Vince note: I'd classify Adele as an appropriator, but that's just me.)
Mainly, though, Homebody seems to be picking up on a lack of listening or thought process. I’m sure writers and musicians share a gripe, there. How often have you written lines that help explain, qualify or round out your thoughts but are completely ignored by your audience when they attack you on Twitter? What Homeboy seems to be getting at is that people shouldn’t sweat the small stuff and listen to the big picture. See what he’s really trying to tell you and get out of your own head for a little while.
"Red Light" – Eddie Murphy ft. Snoop Lion
JAMES: I have a soft spot for somewhat simple reggae music and this is absolutely nailing it… not to mention that fact that I had no clue Eddie Murphy could sing like this (some basic research informs me that I’m way behind on that front, and I legitimately forgot about his pipes from Shrek). As you know, Vince, I also have a soft spot for Snoop. So, yeah, this song is staying around for me. (Vince note: Fam, you never saw Dreamgirls???? Eddie cold. Shout out to "Whatzupwitu," though.)
Ironically, this song probably captures the spirit of reggae that Snoop searched for on his last album Reincarnated. “Red Light” is about oppression, being pushed around and freedom. Of course, there are weed references as well, but reggae is the Jamaican protest genre. Eddie Murphy captures it well in this up-tempo single. We’ll see what happens in the album rumored to follow, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Eddie Murphy sold a lot of records with songs like this.
(Think about that: Eddie Murphy might become the best American representative of reggae music.)