Conscience Rhyme – Jacqui’s Son

 Conscience Rhyme – Jacqui’s Son

Conscience Rhyme – Jacqui’s Son – Album Review

Straight-UP…if quality like this takes as much time as it has, give this man another nine years and wait patiently until that next record drops!  Believe it y’all…that’s the only thing I can’t explain – I have no clue what has put the nearly nine-year gap into Conscience Rhyme’s resume between his first album The Unauthorized Bio Of Patrick J. Wilcox and this new one here called Jacqui’s Son…if I had the skills that this man has, I’d be rappin’ from the moment I got up until the time I went to bed each and every day.

For real…when I find music like THIS in my inbox, it makes me feel like the luckiest man on earth with the best damn ‘job’ anyone has ever had.  Lemme tell ya…being a music ‘critic’ never gets any easier than when a record like Jacqui’s Son comes through my speakers – what on earth am I supposed to be criticizing here, and why on earth would I be doin’ that when things sound as amazing as they do here?  Conscience Rhyme might have been away from the scene for longer than a minute, but he hasn’t skipped a beat – and you can instantly tell that from the first cut on this record, “Around My Way.”  The pace, the precision, the lyricism, the SOUND OF THE MUSIC…c’mon y’all…I’m tellin’ ya, if you put this album on for yourself, it’ll only take mere seconds to know you don’t need a single word from me to convince you to keep listening further.  Conscience Rhyme is dope as hell!  Clearly a mic veteran that knows his way around the bars – syllable for syllable, pound for pound, he’s dropping knowledge and facts in a way that can’t help but keep ya entertained.  The HOOK!  Genius!  CR’s enlisted E. Smitty and Kamilah in the mix for ya as well, keepin’ it close to the circle with family and friends and a whole lotta talent rockin’ mics on a unified front.  At the end of the day, a lot of what Conscience Rhyme is rappin’ about ain’t exactly the happiest stuff you’re gonna hear this year – but that’s what this whole upbeat vibe you’ll discover is a direct response to.  Sometimes you laugh so that you don’t cry, you know?  The same is true in art & music…sometimes you flex a completely different gear so that you’re still able to comment on some really gritty stuff, and get the message across in a way that people will actually listen.  Conscience Rhyme ain’t shying away from tough subjects whatsoever – in my opinion, the way he’s approached his content on “Around My Way” proves he’s thinking on a whole other level…he’s not only a highly effective communicator with something REAL to say, he knows how to get his message across.  The music on this first cut alone is worth the price of admission…everything else we get is truly a bonus.

If we’re talkin’ about single-worthy potential though…LISTEN to how “I’m A Pro” comes out will ya?  This track oozes cool from every pore of your speakers, and no set of ears could deny that.  Conscience Rhyme introduces us to a lot of players in the game & names along the way as this album spins, and in the case of “I’m A Pro” he trades the mic with Opsolo.  Both emcees bring weight to the bars, no doubt – but what really propels this track to even more substantial single-worthy status is what you’ll find in the hooks without question.  “I’m A Pro” will have you singin’ along as you nod your head to the beat – this cut is on-point from start to finish, and you can tell why CR went about releasing this track in advance of the record back in 2021.  Incidentally, the first three tracks on Jacqui’s Son were released as singles, and it’s easy to hear why that was a conclusion easy for Conscience Rhyme to draw to.  Not only do things sound freakishly fantastic with the down-shifting bass-line & beat combo rockin’ with the record scratches & such, but CR gives you a further glimpse into the conscious Hip-Hop he’s creating by getting political too.  Unafraid to express everything that’s on his mind – and passing the mic to another emcee in Opsolo that’s equally fearless in that regard – these two forward-thinkin’ rappers put on a clinic of audible smoothness, substance, and style flowing fluidly together as one – “I’m A Pro” has it goin’ ON.

“The Prey” is exceptional content, 100%.  “I’m tired of the lies and the bullshit” – you’ll feel that line from Conscience Rhyme and the frustration that it comes with.  Now…clearly I have no real concept of what it would be like to be black in America and how hard that struggle would be – but I definitely have functional eyes & ears, and I can certainly sympathize with a situation that never seems to change for the better at any kind of rate that would be deemed accessible.  “I ain’t right, but they wrong” is one of the best lines I’ve heard all year, especially in the context of where CR is coming from on this track.  If I’m hearing this correctly, “The Prey” is all about being pushed too far, being pushed to extremes, and being ready to take matters into your own hands, for both justice AND survival.  The way the lines at the start reference the murder of George Floyd, you can FEEL the justified anger begin to boil, and when CR lets loose on the mic, the intensity is well warranted.  It’s an incredibly insightful cut that details the battle black Americans have been stuck within…”the hunt is on – and you’re the prey” is about as apt of a description of what this track is about as any I could cite…we’ve all been standing on the sidelines of what’s essentially been a government sanctioned genocide for years and years – it’s not any more okay or acceptable now than it was way back when either – and we can’t simply sit idly by and let it continue.  “The Prey” is about being justifiably aware, proactive, and unafraid to settle some scores – permanently.

For something that could definitely be regarded as info-tainment, I certainly hope the people out there appreciate just how listenable this record really is, and how much insight Conscience Rhyme has to share – you don’t find artists like this man every day – that’s what’s real.  With Illazuzeual, the man “strictly bout bread & cheese” trading the mic with him on “Badlands II” – these two emcees drop bulletproof bars and keep you mercilessly addicted to the whole vibe of this cut.  Spoiler alert – if you haven’t caught on yet, Conscience Rhyme doesn’t take his foot off the gas, ever – this whole record jams from beginning to end, and I can’t get enough of it.  “Badlands II” brings a real classic Hip-Hop dimension to the album as it heads towards the middle, with both Conscience Rhyme and Illazuzeual pass the mic and give you equal doses of verbal awesomeness while you can’t help but acknowledge the irresistible uniqueness of the music surrounding them as well.  Essentially, CR has been hittin’ ya from all fronts – whether it’s been from the music or the microphone, and quite likely it’s been BOTH – Jacqui’s Son is the caliber of record you’re really looking for and so rarely find.  I’m truly impressed by how much insight, perspective, and knowledge they can drop into a cut in such an accessible way – it’s a win for evolution.

I’ve also got real love and respect for artists like Conscience Rhyme that take time with their platform to introduce us to other talented artists and names we might not know yet – that’s how you raise up the scene alongside ya; and it’s important for veterans out there to recognize they’ve got that same ability.  Not only have you already learned a whole bunch of new names already by listening, but the guest-stars keep on coming – “Panhandles” features solid turns by Dony 5ive for the first of two back-to-back appearances, and brings back Opsolo for a second collaboration as well.  When you do things right like CR’s been doing throughout this whole album, you get that real sonic palette of diversity & versatility that keeps an album spittin’ out a lineup of cuts you’ll want to repeat, because every one of’em offers your ears something authentically different.  It’s probably fair to say that I like “Panhandles” more-so than I definitively love so much of the rest of this set though if I’m being real with ya – it’s stylistically every bit as slick & smooth as anything else you’ll hear, but content-wise, CR & his crew have dialed-back the fierce nature of the lyricism a little bit here.  I ain’t sayin’ that it’s not something that might actually work even better across the board when it comes to the masses – it very well could – I’m only speaking for myself personally y’all – I’ve loved the political depth and societal insights that Jacqui’s Son has laid out in the majority of this set so much that, whenever that aspect toned down even a bit, I felt like I wanted to get right back to the tracks that had that extra verbal venom & ferocity.  Don’t get me wrong, “Pandhandles” still has some of what I’m looking for in this record, just arguably not quite as much as the rest do…oddly enough, that makes “Panhandles” a great candidate for being a single too – this could have an easier time reaching the masses, and every performance you’ll hear is straight aces.

Case in-point, “My America” will PUNCH YOUR FACE WITH THE TRUTH from the moment it starts, and for the full four-plus minutes, Conscience Rhyme delivers extremely important content that’s incredibly valid, raw, and real AF.  With Dony 5ive and Maximvsmusic sharing the microphone duties, this trio of talent gives you a dose of the unfiltered truth without sparing any quarter – and tells you why the “clay is red in Georgia.”  I ain’t gonna lie to ya – “My America” is fairly shocking to the system…not because what you’re hearing is going for that specifically, but actually because it IS by default when you hear this stuff out loud.  At least, it should be in my opinion…I think it’s moments in music like this that, were we to not be shocked somewhat by what we hear, we’d know society has shifted too far into indifference, and then everything would seriously be fucked even more than it already is.  What we need out there, is a whole army of emcees & artists like these three dudes…people that are unafraid to call it like it really is, whether it’s an “observation, or a fact.”  Stone cold, brutal honesty & objectivity…that’s how we get to that next level as a society, and without it, we’re doomed to keep spinning within this cycle of despair – “the truth is cast aside” in our of daily life – but it’s artists like these guys that shed light on what’s really happening out there, and that’s crucially important on a level beyond anything I could ever say.

Here to give you an example of what Hip-Hop really is, Conscience Rhyme takes on “The Letter” solo.  After an intro that’ll take you about halfway into this track, CR takes the mic and commands it with real authority, summoning the syllables to march straight into the music like soldiers armed with knowledge that needs to get out into the world.  In a way, it almost feels like “The Letter” flies by seriously quickly as a result of the extended intro before Conscience Rhyme starts blasting his words at ya, but when you consider the combination of speed, substance, and style to be found in the remaining 1:40 – it’s almost as if the man somehow stuffed three whole tracks into the latter half of this cut.  Paying homage to what I’d assume is one of the real inspirations to this record and what Conscience Rhyme creates – Public Enemy – the main hook of “The Letter” actually borrows the first line from “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos,” and that’s a brilliant twist that might fly over most heads when it comes to the listening ears out there, but if you’re familiar with the roots of Rap/Hip-Hop, you’ll probably catch the reference.  If not, hell – I just wrote it in here for ya so that we’re all on the same page – you’re welcome.  There’s a lot to love about “The Letter,” but really revealing where the inspiration comes from and tying that in to the fearless courage Conscience Rhyme has shown in speaking the truth throughout this whole record makes this one of the most pivotal tracks of the whole set that you should be paying full attention to.

Enlisting the one & only Ateam for the record’s longest cut “Broken Glass” – everything about this track is a MASSIVE win for Jacqui’s Son, and easily one of the most enticing slices of sound the album has to offer your ears.  On a musical level alone, Conscience Rhyme has outdone himself in rolling to this beat – and for a track that nearly hits the seven-minute mark, you’ll be blown away by how much you really WANT to spin this cut on repeat as loud & proud as your system will carry it.  This is straight-up irresistible as it gets – a perfect representation of how to bring Hip-Hop to that next-level that’ll reach the masses as a whole, not just the dedicated fans of the genre, you feel me?  This is “a collective of extraterrestrial fellas” to say the very least yo!  Conscience Rhyme and his crew of selected talent in Ateam prove to be a verifiable force to be reckoned with on “Broken Glass” – I’d be way more shocked to find out someone didn’t like or love this track, as opposed to the millions out there that will, you feel me?  You rarely find a cut so monumental and essential to a lineup of songs on a record in the eighth spot…not to the degree that “Broken Glass” proves to be, that I can tell ya.  It’s like…if you somehow tuned-out or switched to something else before you made it to this track, you’ve not only lost the plot to begin with, but you would have missed out on one of the most undeniable gems you’ll hear on any record this year.  It is extremely tough to say one song is any better than the others you’ll discover on Jacqui’s Son…but if I’m being real with ya, I think “Broken Glass” probably has the edge on the rest of the set.  Do you know how remarkably rare it is to make SEVEN MINUTES of SINGLE-WORTHY sound come to life y’all?  It’s practically impossible…and as ambitious as it gets when it comes right down to it.  Not only does Conscience Rhyme and Ateam make it happen, they sound like they could have gone on for another seven minutes & we’d STILL be screaming for more!  In the least likely spot of a lineup on an album, you’ll find one of the most memorable tracks you’re gonna hear in 2022 – and you can quote me on that.  I’d say ‘come at me’ if you like – but anyone with a set of functional ears on their face will know I’m speaking the gospel truth – there’s no argument to be had when we can ALL hear the magic, 100%.

Bringin’ in that BASS to amp-up the album towards the finale, the low-down sound & spirited groove on “Heaven (Mama Said)” does a remarkable job of filling the toughest spot in the entire lineup, coming right after what’s unquestionably one of the best cuts of the year with “Broken Glass” beforehand.  Layin’ out the wisdom that Jacqui’s Son has absorbed over his lifetime and generously passing that onto YOU – pay attention y’all…chances are, you could learn something from this track that will lead you directly into living a better life.  At the very least, I can promise ya that you won’t want to miss a single solitary second of this cut as it stands…whether it’s for the music or the message, or both, you’re pretty much bound to love this track too – “Heaven (Mama Said)” is right & tight and smooth AF from start to finish.  “A hard head make a sore ass” – consider me a BIG fan of Jacqui…that’s one of the many things that CR’s “Mama said” that has clearly helped put him on the right path in LIFE…and believe me, you’ll hear plenty more of her insightful words in this track as well.  It’s a track that really deserves ALL the bonus points…I love the tributary nature of it for sure, but I also think it’s actually straight-up incredible that Conscience Rhyme was able to somehow find a track with the strength to follow “Broken Glass” in a way that could be argued might even raise the stakes even further as the album heads to its finale.  In terms of theme & concept, it’s a track that the set-list really needs to tie everything all together – but it’s genuinely fascinating how much rhythm & groove is packed into the mix here…I’d be willing to bet most people out there would think Jacqui’s Son peaked with “Broken Glass,” but this track is the proverbial ‘hold my beer’ moment, because wait, there’s MORE…and then Conscience Rhyme shifts into overdrive.

And that’s really where it ends…music-wise…with the exception of Jacqui’s Son adding “The Prank (Outro)” to finish things off on the best of notes.  A bit of humor…a bit of undeniable social commentary too…it’s the perfect way to end this record and further confirmation of so many points it has made along the way.  They out here pranking Grandma with a collect call that seems to take place from jail…which…I mean…I ain’t gonna be the one to recommend that unless you feel like gettin’ justifiably slapped upside your head – and there’s no doubt that it’s intended to bring a laugh to ya at the end of the album.  That being said…consider what’s actually going down here too, and understand the relevance of it all.  Chances are, if you’re among the privileged in society, this wouldn’t even BE the prank you chose to pull, because the circumstances would be that far-fetched and basically unbelievable – but in the America that Conscience Rhyme has grown up in and knows far too well, jail is not only a major possibility for far too many, but a situation that’ll take everything to a serious level immediately – because it’s like that, for real; you’d take it as the truth more likely than you’d take it as a joke, you dig?  I’d imagine most people won’t even realize that…or at least most people like myself living outside of the USA…but if you’ve been paying real attention, you’ll know Conscience Rhyme ended this record in the most brilliant way that separates those who get it from those that don’t with this outright exceptional final track.  Sometimes you gotta laugh so you don’t straight-up cry…that’s what this ending is all about.

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