Every Street Mixtape by J-OK!
Once a champion sailor, college football player, and excellent potter, Andy Oakes has constantly found ways to reinvent himself. Oakes' first began flirting with the notion of creating music over a year ago. At the time, he and a friend thought it would be interesting to create a mash-up of artists from two distinctly different genres (How original!). Through the grueling process of learning the in's and out's of music programs, Oakes stayed determined when others were cynical. In mixing Jay-Z's verses on "Justify My Thug" with Sound Tribe Sector 9's futuristic tune "F. Word", Oakes first tasted the glory that is musical creation.
Since then, Oakes, whose moniker has changed nearly as many times as Prince's (from Jeffrey to Andy to DJ Ayo to J-OK!), has devoted himself solely to music. Though, in the last 6 months, I have been lackadaisical in following his endeavor, it seems that his interests have changed from solely DJing to rockin' the mic too.
On J-OK!'s (I'll acknowledge his 'street' name) debut showing, Every Street Mixtape (2009), he does well to set himself apart from the riff raff of the hip-hop community. An album predicated on animosity towards the trite and repetitive bullshit that passes for popular rap these days, Every Street is a poignant statement that what we need to do is return to the conscious music that was original hip hop. But, is J-OK! really going to be the one to bring us back?
Most probably not...but I support his earnest effort!
1) J-OK!'s production on the album is ill. He creates beats following the mantra of ultra producer RZA. He takes tiny snippets, as opposed to lazy chorus sampling, and loops them creating, as RZA coined, "psychedelic rap". Plus, Big A-LO's mixing and scratching is wild!
2) The lyrics are actually pretty decent...interesting....funny...what's up with the scat solo on "The Funk"? With regard to lyricism, I am especially impressed by his work on "Fire & Rain" and "What It's Like" (*sick Em impression on this track).
3) His flow isnt THAT wack! Ok, so it's kinda your cliche elementary hip hop flow (See: Hope), but you can tell he's learning as the album progresses. With that said, I'll go out on a limb and say that his rhyming style will become more stylized and personal on his next outing.
4)What J-OK lacks on the first verse of "Hope" is made up for by Barack's flow.
5) Most importantly, I must invoke the wisdom of the one and only KRS-One, and say if "MC's spit rhymes to uplift their people".... J-OK most definitely is one of 'em.
So, while it's not the debut that Illmatic (1994), Reasonable Doubt (1996), or Ready To Die (1994) were, Every Street is legit. It's definitely worth, at least, a once over, and in doing so I'm sure you'll find a couple tracks you like.
My personal favorites were "Fire & Rain", "Hope", What It's Like", and "Music Theory".
Get it at...
Every Street Mixtape (2009)