The release of a new artist on Stones Throw Records is always exciting. The LA based hip hop label has always had an underground reputation, as being the guys who really know their stuff. So with the release of the debut album from LA boy Jonwayne, 'Rap Album One', at the end of October, duly there is genuine hype and excitement.
The album itself reflects his roots in production but also his skill as a rapper. His style is old school; the way he raps ensures his lyrics are clear and methodical often masking his humorous messages that cleverly lie within; the album cover is a salted cracker.
Opener, ‘After The Calm’ says a lot about the album, its style is relatively minimal considering his production roots but as the title suggests prepares you for what is to come. The line “Picture me raising up like a comet from the ground” exemplifies his confidence and states his arrival on the scene, after 3 impressive mix tapes including work with Flying Lotus, Jonwayne clearly believes he is here to stay. The next track, 'You Can Love Me When I'm Dead', shows this skill as he breaks into a fierce verse increasing the tempo and over a simple beat his skill of spitting is even more evident and the track clearly shows Jonwayne is not rapping to please, more to express his skill, as the line “You can love me when I’m dead” loops at the end of the track reminds you.
The track ‘Reflection’ which has been released as an album teaser is interesting. The first minute of the track is different; with a simple piano beat and reverb of distorted vocals give it a somewhat trippy feel. However, when this intro ends Jon erupts into a far faster pace flow, than you have got used to from the album, and its great. A demonstration of his skill as a rapper and a producer and demonstrates the options he has in future projects.
Other album highlights include the tracks ‘Black Magic’ which introduces itself with a moody, beat and allows Jon to give his opinion of America and his part in society and culture, but don’t worry not in a Kanye esque sociological annalistic type rant, he hasn’t got to that level, yet. The track ‘The Come Up Part 1’ sees a guest appearance from Scoop DeVille who has produced for the likes of Snoop and Kendrick, and offers variety in beat and tempo, which works perfectly for the album, but also stands out as a clear highlight.
'Rap Album One' is not an album that is likely to make Jonwayne millions, but its not trying to. It is an album that shows he has skill, shit loads of confidence and looks like the real deal. It is an album though that gives him a perfect base to build upon and fully utilise his potential and make fans of hip hop really excited.
Words: Adam Gardiner