J Speed – Sehm2yce – Album Review
Where the REAL Hip-Hop fans at?
Cause if that’s you, you’re gonna wanna turn up for this one.
I’ll admit…we’re just catching up to J Speed’s music now…from everything I’ve read, the dude might very well have at least a dozen albums floating around out there since his debut record back in 2010 – but better late than never when it comes to talent like this. Whether you’re a longstanding fan of J Speed’s rhymes, rhythms & beats or just climbing aboard the bandwagon like I am now – there’s a little somethin’ for everyone on his latest disc Sehm2yce…and for fans of REAL Hip-Hop, there’s a whole lot.
I mean…what are you gonna fault this guy for? You can’t! Sure you can argue one of the track’s being your ultimate favorite over another…but really, anything that can be argued here would only ever be a matter of personal taste; when it comes to the skill-level of which it’s produced, arranged, written & performed…well…I fail to hear what else we could ask for as listeners. J Speed is truly beyond impressive when it comes right down to it…Sehm2yce moves & flows expertly and every move he makes seems so precisely planned and perfectly executed. A true wordsmith whose talent & respect for the genre run deep on this record…you’ll hear it…you can’t help but hear it…
So put the keys into your car and turn up the stereo, hit the “Ignition” and let’s ride through this record.
With the rev of an engine and a patch left behind on the ground, J Speed launches out of the album’s intro, “Ignition” and into the first serious dose of impressive rhymes with “Re Sume.” Absolutely SICK cut that showcases the verbal skills of J Speed and the incredible way he bends every word & syllable to his will as he hits bar after bar with ease. Note the FOCUS of this guy…because that’s what’s seriously rockin’ my world…the moment this guy takes the microphone, “Re Sume” becomes an entirely different animal altogether. To be entirely honest…I’m a bit indifferent on the synth-led beat of the music…I don’t hate it, don’t love it…but to be even more honest, I don’t know if I even care! Let me explain…don’t throw things at me yet or start Tweetin’ your Twitters… The point I’m trying to make is that the absolutely electrifying performance that J Speed puts in is worth the price of admission all in itself – he CRUSHES this first cut with a mesmerizing performance that strings word after word together with intensity and immaculate precision. I don’t know if he needs ANY music at all is really what I’m saying! His metering is flawless, his movement is perfection…the tone absolutely matches the atmosphere and LISTEN to the amazing way that this guy rhymes…c’mon people, you GOTTA be lovin’ these moments where he turns his rhymes into what sounds like a genuine record-scratch inserted into the sound of his words. That’s no accident people – that’s pure genius there; a brilliant addition to the mix and part of what becomes a noticeable part of J Speed’s signature sound as the record plays on. His energy is absolutely incredible – “Re Sume” is a fantastic start to an album.
& I mean…ANY time someone wants to bring the funk, you know I’m in. “Got To Love It” works the bass-led grooves perfectly with a sly, crisp percussion keeping the beat in-time & music on-point as J Speed gets set to do his thang once again. This is the proof. “Re Sume” is a great first impression…but it’s that follow-up song that’s going to let us know or give us insight into if he got lucky on that initial cut or if this record is going to the distance.
I think the title says it all really – “Got To Love It.” Aren’t you? Cause I sure as hell am! What’s not to love about this? REAL Hip-Hop…this is exactly what the ingredients need to have in order to hit the mark and make an impact on us; J Speed’s music is like a fine-dining experience for these ears – he doesn’t just have the right ingredients, he’s keeping them as fresh, crisp, clean and refined as possible. You can hear that the time & effort has been put in to make sure that each and every word fills the perfect spot in the metering and flow – J Speed keeps the lyrics poetic, lightly sprinkled with jokes and bold energy dominating the verses and confidently executing the hook in the chorus on his own. Seems he’s willing & able to do it all on his own – “Got To Love It.” It’s all about the timing, movement and pace of “Got To Love It” – J Speed has nailed this one by combining the insatiable funk-groove in the music with some seriously memorable style on the ol’ m-i-c.
Give the man some credit…he keeps it movin’ no matter what track you’re listening to. Even with the subtle music of “Years,” the beat keeps him moving at a maximum pace. Emcees take NOTE – you can still HEAR every word he’s spitting clear as day…and again, props to taking on his own hooks with just as much confidence as you hear in the verses. I’ve probably reviewed hundreds of emcees that don’t know when they should hand off the mic to another for that main hook – but J Speed isn’t in that category. Absolutely electrifying in his performances, “Years” makes the most of both verse & chorus and has J Speed in a different atmosphere holding it down with stunning clarity & supreme authority. I wouldn’t even dare say that I fully grasp everything he’s saying on a track like “Years” or “Conversation Of Kings” to follow…but I think the key points come through in the storylines strongly and the emotion behind the words is powerful and present in every syllable. “Conversations Of Kings” keeps the low-key energy in the music chilled-out in a logical flow & progression as the album continues on after “Years” with a guitar-sample led melody that keeps the cut minimal in the music and maximized on the vocals once again. Around the halfway-mark of the record…you start to notice the trend…J Speed really DOESN’T need music at all – I bet this guy could bust rhymes with no sound around him at all and be every bit as captivating to listen to. “Conversations Of Kings” is a highlight example of just how much he can do on the mic with how little in the music; his vocabulary is massive but it’s his word-selection itself that has really led to him finding the perfect space to exist within the bars & beats of his music every time.
Don’t get me wrong…J Speed understands minimalism in music completely and certainly is able to use it to his advantage. I’m not about to say that “Bicycle” is where the music-side of the record becomes extremely involved…that’s still not the case…but kinda? The beat and samples in “Bicycle” are extraordinarily well placed & mapped out…this bike rides straight on home if you ask me. Starting this cut out with the beat and the main chorus hook was a great idea to switch it up – and the way the music moves in this song really does count for something. It might still be minimalist in its style but each time it transitions the atmosphere, the rhymes respond with matching energy; the break-away from the sample into the beat/hook combo with the vocals is as brilliant as it gets – it’s so effective it’s nearly ridiculous how much that shift in sound sucks us all right in to listen to his every word. Twisting syllables with clarity, precision and passion…J Speed takes this one on like a young Busta Rhymes in the way he paces, phrases and frames his words in the bars. “Bicycle” is ALL that…seriously strong tune.
Sehm2yce continues smartly by placing “All Way” after “Bicycle” – that would have been a tough tune for any track to follow. Compared to everything we’ve heard so far…”All Way” is almost too low-key to demand your attention as closely as the rest of the songs on the record…but it serves another function as a momentary reprieve after such a rollercoaster ride from the moment this record began. Against a gentle guitar melody, “All Way” is still verbally impressive but very laid back in its atmosphere…J Speed is still every bit as sharp, ducking, weaving, punching and jabbing words around like a lyrical prizefighter. The shortest cut on the album aside from the intro, “All Way” really does serve a purpose as an interlude from the intensity of the rest of the record…there’s value in that too. The music sample in this tune is quite hypnotic and inviting to listen to…I don’t think anyone would say it’s a bad song by any stretch of the imagination but I do think we’d all agree that upon this particular record of impressive cuts, “All Way” will likely have to fight harder to gain your full attention than the others will.
“Wehey” would probably be the most musically-involved track on the record with the most samples firing-off at the same time along with J Speed’s rhymes. You can hear added social awareness, commentary and worldly observations along with personal reflections & perspectives offered throughout “Wehey” – there’s certainly no shortage of words or things that J Speed wants to say when he takes hold of the mic. He remains as impressive as ever lyrically and how he moves with the music…”Wehey” was almost a bit thicker, meatier and tougher to absorb on the first listens through in terms of its accessibility of sound; it comes across much more serious somehow. While it kind of made me miss the funk of “Got To Love It” a bit…I still think this cut shows another side of J Speed that’s equally important with what he wants to say, and he never at any time disappoints when it comes to his own performance and delivery.
The party-vibe picks up again with “5x” – which makes use of a singable-hook that everyone in the crowd can pitch to help with & get down on. The verse…well…good luck with that – he’s called J Speed for a reason people…if you can keep up to him there, you should be making your own music too. Dude straps on a rocket to his words in the verse of “5x” and really makes an impression against the bold synth-led music of this cut. I won’t lie…I’m not USUALLY a fan of this particular style of chorus…BUT…something about the way J Speed does his thang really makes a guy want to sing along with it. I swear this one’s contagious…his energy is perfection in the way his attitude & tone come across in the words of the hook on “5x” – it’s hard not to hard it the award as the star of the track. That being said…the verses of “5x” might show some of the highest-levels of speed & skill combined that we’ve heard from J Speed so far throughout Sehm2yce…it’s all damn impressive, bright & bold to listen to from the music to the mic.
Straight-up, I could listen to the final track “Stage Left” and ONLY “Stage Left” for the rest of my LIFE and I’d be completely happy, content and satisfied. Words simply cannot describe how much I love this one or what I feel about it – he puts it best: “Some tracks you really enjoy – and this was one.” J Speed has put his artistic and creative nature out in front here for the final cut of Sehm2yce and ended this record on the most brilliant of its notes so far. I don’t want to take a single thing away from the insanely high-level of skill he’s put into each and every moment along the way…and I don’t even expect everyone to agree with me on this final tune – it’s radically different from the rest but in the greatest of ways. The music is absolutely stunning…the atmospheric elements surrounding the melody in the samples & beat is just as smart…and the WORDS…OMG, THE WORDS! This is what I’m talking about when I say I could listen to this all day, every day…I’m assuming that’s J Speed speaking about the recording process and his love for what became of the end result of this particular experience. It’s straight-up genius. Genuine, REAL and loaded with insight…this was a truly smart move and one hell of a way to end a record on a memorable note…there is so much to listen to from the extraordinary way it’s been edited & layered together to the actual words & conversation itself. Cleverly adding in a slight Hip-Hop rap threaded deep into the texture of the atmosphere…the subtle way “Stage Left” is mixed should leave you speechless and recognizing that there’s just as much talent for ideas & composition as there is talent when it comes to the music of J Speed. He’s tried a ton of things throughout the span of this record and come out winning while taking multiple chances with minimalism; while he could have been crushed under the weight of the pressure riding on him to add the real entertainment into each song – this emcee rose to the challenge with confidence, precision, skills, ideas & execution you truly can’t ignore.
I’m listening, that’s for sure. J Speed is an exceptional talent and I’m stoked I stumbled onto his music. You can expect to hear one of my favorite cuts from the Sehm2yce record on the next episode of the SBS Podcast coming up later tonight, posting here at the homepage as always!
Until then, find out more about J Speed and support this homie at the links below!
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JSpeedQC
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JSpeedQC/
iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/j-speed/id349625666
Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/artist/6c4TopmOwp0tPYmXiRjkjl
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