10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Yes, it's long, but please read this review!,
This review is from: Attack of the Attacking Things (Audio CD)
You know how people say the best music ever made was written in someone's basement? Well, Jean Grae does you one up, she wrote, produced and recorded her entire album in small, corner-studios, wherever she could get at, and let me tell you something, this record validates that statement one hundred percent. Jean's first solo LP, "Attack Of The Attacking" things is genius, or rather jeanius, but either way, it is easily one of the most incredible, and most incredibly slept on albums of all time. Real quick - the reason I titled this review so simply as "read this review," is because this album has become practically impossible to lay your hands on,and whether they're discontinuing it or taking it off the market or what, make some noise in protest! It would be an absolute travesty to hip hop music, period, to take this record off the shelves!
If you know thing one about Jean Grae, you know she can rap. She can write, rap, produce, she can do practically anything. Seeing as she learned to read at age three, Jean's relationship with language goes back a long way, but even more than that, it's her intelligence that truly makes her music what it is. Listening to her music isn't like listening to rap. Not a single line in this album is compromised for the sake of hitting the right rhyme, or emphasizing the right beat. She doesn't seem to have to even think about it. She weaves comprehensive stories that might as well have jumped out of five-star novels, and puts them to catchy, blissfully melodic loops. The result is absolutely amazing. So if I say one important thing in this review, here it is: W-O-W.
Buy this album. Yes, in the tiny little pixilated picture you can barely make out online, the cover of this album looks extremely bootlegged, (oh what irony,) but in person, it's actually a pretty cool album cover, and the cartoon layout on the back is artistic and creative. Props to Jean for working so well with a low budget. But enough about the cover-art. If you make one mistake, ONE MISTAKE with this album, it would be not buying it because you think it looks unprofessional, or some other rubbish. Don't do that. The music on this album is absolutely incredible, and while Jean's release "This Week" champions the top of her discography list as the best, I have to say, "Attack of the Attacking Things" is a near miss, and even though "This Week" may, overall, be a better album, this record has a few very strong features that her other releases simply lack. Such as...
Jean's softer side. Yes, I said it, Jean has a soft side. Everyone knows it, all you have to hear is "P.S." on "This Week" to know it, but "Attack of the Attacking Things," I believe, is EASILY Jean's most introspective, emotional, and downright moving work yet. Track 8 - "Love Song" is one of the most incredibly moving songs I've ever heard. Over a beautifully haunting, melodic track, Jean weaves a story in third person about a young, naïve girl who is constantly taken advantage of by predator men. Then, slowly, towards the end, after mixing "I's" and "Her's" throughout the song, Jean drops the pretense and admits the story is all true, and all about her. "Maybe it's easier to talk about this stuff in third person," she says as she closes out the track with her last verse, and the listener can't help but feel close to Jean.
Aside from poignant, emotional tracks, Jean also proves she isn't afraid to say what she means, point blank, and does her best to try and inspire change in the black community, or society period. This is something not seen on her other albums. It's not that Jean isn't conscience on her other albums, she is, but she's never said it so straightforward, and I love it. I hope to hear more tracks like this from her in the future. The track is called "Block Party," a deceptive title, and as the opening line, she says "I don't want to preach or come off bitter, this is a commentary, auditory, editorial, about the state of things, state of mind and state of being." From there, she goes on to make some of the most absolutely intelligent, unsaid and covered up truths and observations I've ever heard, begging for change. "You need to get out your house, get off your block, go see something, go change something." To her fellow women, Jean says "Ladies, know your worth, the way we're giving it up, we might as well auction ourselves on ebay, to the lowest bidder, so what if his dough is better? Money doesn't make the man, maybe self sufficiency would better make you understand."
One last thing that must be said, briefly, for this album, is the outstanding production. I have to say, "Attack" has some of the most beautifully melodic loops - EVER. From jazz, to rock, to R&B, to your hard-hitting rap baselines. Not only that, but every loop fits the mood, such as track 7, "Thank Ya." This has an addictive, jazz/rock loop behind it, over which Jean uses her biting sense of humor. "It's scary, like women that ain't really women, to dudes that try to holla at them, wait, that was confusing."
For those of you who know Jean, and for those of you who don't, BUY THIS ALBUM. For ages now, going on five years, I have confidently proclaimed Talib Kweli as my all time favorite rapper, but finally, Jean may have usurped him from that position and taken his place. Well, they're neck-in-neck, at the very least. One thing must be said for Jean - she is the ONLY rap artist, the ONLY musical artist period who consistently puts out albums which I can listen to straight-through without having to skip a track. Yup. Jean Grae has yet to put out A SINGLE SONG I don't like. That's dumb-founding to me. Ultimately, what makes Jean so great, is her talent for words, and her sense of humor. Please hear me on this; Jean is beautifully human. It's easy to idolize a rapper like Talib Kweli who focuses so relentlessly on conscience rap, and I absolutely love him for that, but there's something about Jean Grae's candid emotion and honesty, her talent for using sardonic wit to point out painful truths, and her movingly personal narratives that make it easy to love Jean Grae as a person trying to make a difference, and view her as a human, and not just idolize her as a symbol.
To Jean: Don't ever stop. All the turmoil you've gone through, everything you've fought for has been worth it, because whether you realize it or not, you DO effect people, and without a doubt, inspire (at least me) to do everything I can to make a difference, not as a symbol, not with money, not with influence, but as a human, who can connect with others on a deeper level.