Jean Grae | Jeanius (Blacksmith)

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cd_jean-grae.jpgLyrically, Jeanius is mostly a mix of two things Grae is incredibly good at.







Jean Grae's new album Jeanius, on Talib Kweli's record label Blacksmith Records, is her fourth full-length album. Around the time this album was officially released (an unfinished version was apparently leaked on the internet about four years ago), Grae talked and blogged about wanting to retire. While I have no idea whether this is true, I would hope this isn't her last album.

Grae is one of the best emcees who a lot of people have never heard of. She knows this. Her lyrics are ridiculously smart, witty and often mean. She has a wry and perhaps warped sense of humor, and the bulk of her rhymes often revolve around the many ways she can kick your ass. In spite of critical acclaim and fans that love her, Grae has never reached the upper levels of fame or record selling.

Lyrically, Jeanius is mostly a mix of two things Grae is incredibly good at: being laugh-out-loud funny (often due to her over-the-top boasts), and brutally honest and angry lines. Although very worth listening to, songs like "Billy Killer," with smooth layers featuring a classic guitar and jazz vocal loops, might not be something to put on a party mix; it's more something you would listen more carefully to on headphones.

"My Story" is obviously about abortion -- her own experience. What's hard to tell is what side of that fence she is on, which is strange for a political song. Either way, the lyrics are riddled with guilt. Maybe it's not really a political song, but rather one that merely speaks of events that have taken place in her life, as the song also very straightforwardly mentions a heart murmur and an attempt at suicide.

Although good, the album is not perfect. It gets bogged down at points with filler, not necessarily full songs, but parts that I question the necessity of, which is basically the only thing that will keep this from being in my current frequent rotation of albums.

Well produced by 9th Wonder who has worked with such stars as Mary J Blige and Jay-Z, it seems possible that this album could break through more than her previous efforts -- but I wouldn't hold my breath. B | Jaffa Aharonov

RIYL: Bahamadia, Medusa, Psalm One, Lauryn Hill

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