Mayhem & Jerz: MayJerzachusetts Island
The resurgence and perfection of the soul sound in hip hop came around the early 2000s when a young Kanye West was speeding up samples and creating that familiar ‘chipmunk sound’ for Jay-Z. Since then, a myriad of producers like 9th Wonder, Ayatollah, 14KT and more have relied on that strong soul sound to craft some of hip hop’s finest productions. I’m a sucker for the soul sample because I think it directly relates to the powerful soul found in hip hop music, so when I heard MayJerzachusetts Island, I was pleased to be greeted with a heavy soul-influence backing speedy lyrics and crafty rhymes.
With Jerz handling the beats and Mayhem handling the bars, this album kicks off with the dope intro “Welcome to MayJerzachusetts Island.” Although it’s a mouthful, the track definitely gives you a much-needed intro to this hip hop duo. With blaring horns and thick drums, the beat knocks and Mayhem opens up the curtain in a showy way. The next track, “Lookin’ Up” features a sick drum loop and a sped up sample that really hooked me in to the album. If the album kept up with this style, I would’ve loved this album.
Although it did not stay on the same level as that second track, the album held out a pretty nice note. “Street Runna” and “You” are both middle of the road, but the listener yearns to hear a track like “Lookin’ Up” again. As the album wears on, the soul sound dwindles and gives way to a more loud and brash sound with a more intensified set of rhymes from the emcees. This album definitely features some talented rappers–their rhymes are smart and well thought-out definitely–but it just lacks that ‘wow’ factor.
It wasn’t until “Come After Me” that I started getting back into the swing of the album. The song opens up with an R&B hook and leads into some warm horns and more of that delightful soul music. The message in this song is so good; it’s a love song, but a dope one. The verse features some heart-felt lines talking to a girl about his relationship with her and hip hop. It’s definitely one of the top tracks on the album and it got me back into the project as a whole.
The next track “City High Rises” started and the record scratch broke the silence and the heavy kick rocked the track. This track does not feature the soul sound the rest of the album possesses, but the song is insane. The first verse is incredible as the emcee goes in barely taking a breath as he spits rhyme after rhyme after rhyme. I definitely recommend people listen to this song if they are a fan of fast, quick-thinking/quick-spitting lyricists. The whole sound on the track is booming, east-coast gloriousness. A true supporter of 90s hip hop would appreciate it.
For the rest of the album, the soul sound is pretty consistent and I applaud the cohesiveness. I feel the consistency keeps the album solid rather than a bunch of random tracks making it sound more like an old-school mixtape. MayJerzachusetts Island is a solid project, but it’s not very unique. The beats and the rhymes are dope, but it does not present anything new or exciting. Regardless, I give the album a nod of confidence.
MP3: Mayhem and Jerz featuring Dominque Larue “Lookin’ Up”