Jimmy Carter – Jimmy – Album Review
As far as a first impression goes, the opening to this record is as sick as it gets. Jimmy Carter’s new album Jimmy starts with a seriously impressive & smooth hook that cuts right to the quick and pulls you right in to listen – it’s called “Master Bait” – and right there on display in the title alone, you can get a sense of the wild wordplay that this emcee is bringing to the game. Representing the XXXIX Empire, Jimmy Carter comes out of the gate swinging BIG from track one – “Master Bait” is ridiculously catchy and the transitions between styles of rap, hip-hop, trap…it’s all effortless & natural for this mic-master. I’ll say this though…I’m not saying the album is necessarily front-loaded because there’s basically no jam on this record that I wouldn’t bump loud’n’proud – but…BUT…each time I came around to repeat the record I couldn’t help but notice that “Master Bait” was a cut that I basically couldn’t resist and might very well be a lot of people’s favorite track on the album. Would I put it anywhere else in the lineup instead to like, you know, hold something back? Hell no – Jimmy’s made the right call completely here – we live in a world where that first impression might be the ONLY one you GET – so in my opinion, there’s never anything wrong with coming out as strong as possible, especially if you’ve still got a ton of solid material left in the tank to back it up, which of course, is still just as key in terms of a full record. Look at it this way – Jimmy’s almost daring himself to live up to the incredibly high standard immediately set by the immaculate draw of the smooth sound of “Master Bait” – and you’ll find he rises to the challenge. Continually one of my own favorite cuts from this record spin after spin, it’s a massively enticing first experience and the chill vibe he’s created in the energy of this opening tune really hits the mark; the pacing is incredible and the performance is as on-point from moment one as it can possibly get.
I’ll fully admit that the initial adjustment from the smooth flow & sound of “Master Bait” into “Jealous” is a bit jarring on that first listen or two…ain’t nothing wrong with that and in fact I dig it when a change in style occurs this upfront on a record – it tells your ears & brain to expect the unexpected from that point on. “Jealous” digs deep into a low-end vibe and nearly tribal atmosphere at times…kind of like how Tricky works with Hawkman if you’ve ever checked out that side of Trip-Hop. A lot of personality on display here…but that should nearly be a given; if you check out the online lore behind Jimmy Carter and the XXXIX Empire, you’ll learn that there are three persona’s in the mix on the regular, all fighting for time on the mic through the conduit of one human vessel. They’re kept separate as far as I know – but there’s no doubt that somewhere, subconsciously, those extra characters roaming around in his dome and different styles he works with probably creep in & crossover occasionally in their own ways. Technically – Jimmy is the 2nd half of a two-album set called Malachi Navi Wahy Presents: Conscience + Ego by XXXIX Empire – just so we’re all on the same page; and for example, if you were to listen to this artist’s performance as The Sun King on the first half of this double dose of personalities, you’d experience something altogether different than what you’re hearing on this second half. Love the bass rhythm that flows in the music of “Jealous” and the minimalist vibe he’s got goin’ on here – Jimmy is without question an emcee capable of entertaining with very little happening around him…songs like “Jealous” speak to the fact that it’s the words and the way this guy spits’em that adds the most beef to his material. I mean, hey, it’s a rap/hip-hop record – beats are great but it’s always the words and the artists rappin’ em out that should remain the star of the show, and they totally do here on “Jealous.” I dig the clever switch into like…damn, it’s nearly a 90’s style break-beat incorporated at times…much more chill here on “Jealous” mind you, but the technique applied & samples added have an almost like, Maestro Fresh Wes vibe going on, and of course that initial & ending vocal hook is coming straight from Led Zeppelin, only a cappella here via Jimmy. Clever combinations at work on this second tune.
“Zee Lay” – good lord! Jimmy’s so lazy he can’t even be bothered to sort out the title on this track and put the syllables in order…that’s one ‘lazy ma’fucker’ right there is what that is. Alright – facts are facts – the man makes being lazy sound GOOD here…there’s no doubt that “Zee Lay” is Jimmy wild’n out for a minute or two, but the amount of character and personality on the mic here is unbelievably cool. This is the LOOSEST of vibes as you can possibly listen to on Jimmy, but LISTEN to how tight Carter is on this cut! Whether these are thoughts coming straight off the dome freestyle or if he’s written this out beforehand, it don’t matter to me – it all comes out sounding like he’s just spittin’ naturally and he’s come out with a short dose of audio gold on “Zee Lay.” I dunno…for the sheer amount of what seems like insight into the natural character of who Jimmy is and what he’s really all about, I just felt like “Zee Lay” delivers beyond expectation. I mean, it’s the kind of cut where once you get the formula to the set-up & structure of how this flows, you somewhat know what’s coming at ya – but I’ll be damned if I could take my ears of “Zee Lay” because of just how much character & charisma flows through the mic. I wish you the best of luck…maybe you can pull yourself away from this one, maybe I’ve just hit the bong one too many times whilst writing this to want to move on to the next track & I’m trapped here in the couch while listening to this song on repeat, trapped in a sweet lazy rap hell that I’d actually be fine with living in…you just never know. Bottom line is, “Zee Lay” creeps up on ya quick – there’s an odd charm in the honesty & humor that Carter’s working with on this track that makes you want to listen to it over and over. He’s clearly having a good time on this cut…I think it’s completely because of that, that we do too.
I think the first track that takes the creativity & imagination of this artist a step into the beyond is “Sus As Fuck” – and as to whether or not everyone is suited to follow Jimmy down the rabbit hole here, that’s going to be an individual thang for sure. For myself personally, I think that the poetic mix of intelligent lyricism mixed with genuine swag & style continues to get better & better as it flows and you get invested into this crazy cut. Musically, I think the innovative beat that Jimmy is working with on “Sus As Fuck” is better than bold – it’s a straight-up damn near insane choice of sounds to build on, and I think he’s created a seriously memorable cut that’s pretty much years before its time right now – this will hold up strongly over the years and always feel fresh to listen to. That being said…I do think that it’s a much more complex design and thereby kind of doomed to fight harder for the people’s attention in comparison to the hooks that come right atcha on cuts like “Master Bait” or “Zee Lay” – they might not ‘get it’ at first, but in my opinion, you’ll come around to this one and really appreciate the work that’s been put in to every detail from the performance to production, writing to music on “Sus As Fuck.” Carter does need to understand that if he’s going to continue to slip weed references into his music that I’m never going to actually put this bong away and we’re gonna end up five pages deep in this review. His fault homies, not mine. For real though – “Sus As Fuck” is as bizarre as it is next-level genius.
You can think of songs like “Strong Style” almost like how an actor would approach the best monologue of their careers. This cut is a verbal rant at full rampage and the man never lets his boot up off ya, laying down a lyrical barrage of powerful lines that fit with the enormity of the themes at work here. I like how this guy commits though – that might very well be the advantage of having multiple music personas – because you can clearly get to the heart of the ideas that are driving Carter through both what he’s saying and how he’s saying it on each & every tune. Regardless of whether you end up digging each individual track or the album as a whole, or even if it’s not your jam, you’ve gotta respect how the man sticks to the framework of a giant idea and then fill it so impressively with such attention to detail. “Strong Style” NEEDED Carter to come out sounding like he’s ten-feet tall in order for it to work – and that’s what he brings to it; he pays attention to this kind of stuff and to me, it makes all the difference in the world when it comes to listening to his music. He doesn’t let up on the concepts he chooses and brings focused words, committed performances, and clever rhymes to each of the songs on Jimmy.
“Staff” was probably the track I was the most on the fence about – but this is still a solid example of what I was talking about before; pass or fail, the man commits. When you reach as far out there creatively as this guy does, you’re bound to run into some stuff that works, and some stuff that doesn’t along the adventure…that’s only natural. I think once that piano kicks in and the verse takes shape around the first minute, Jimmy finds himself on solid ground here…part of me thinks he might have taken this one a step or two too far overall – and I suspect he was feeling the same way given what he’s rappin’ about in the words. I can feel that though…I’m sure many of you can too – “Staff” is one of those cuts where you fall in love with a certain aspect of it, whether it’s a part of the music, words, vibe, whatever…and it becomes impossible to toss because of that essential redeeming quality. Does “Staff” belong on Jimmy? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s debatable. It serves a purpose in the sense that you never know what you can expect from Carter at his craziest…still a decent track, but at the same time, by comparison to the strengths on display throughout the rest of the ideas and material on the rest of this record…probably a short cut that could have been saved for a B-side perhaps. Might just be me.
Wait a second here…is Jimmy giving the Karate Kid era a serious shout out? Yessir it IS – “Danny LaRu” is…almost like a really bizarre oddity…another insane beat in a minimalist style…Jimmy’s locked into the flow of the cypher here and working the magic on these bars. I think it’s that it’s because of the fact that so much of this cut rests on his shoulders that it really ends up becoming more addictive than you might think at first. If you’re at all familiar with the Karate Kid, you’ll find yourself hanging on to every word like I was and listening to all the clever references this emcee has packed into the lyrics…it’s pop-culture history somewhat, but remarkably skilled and clearly focused. As I’ve said just about a million times by now I’m sure, we’ve all gotta write about something – so why NOT base a track around good ol’ “Danny LaRu” from the Karate Kid? May as well! For real – this song will test the trivia knowledge of even the biggest fans out there – and for the rest of you, you’ll get a cut stocked full of killer craft at work on the m-i-c and maybe you’ll learn a thang or two about some classic 80’s cinema in the process. I mean…in some ways, “Danny LaRu” is subtle – but that subtleness is what control sounds like; the reality is, the energy and intensity packed into this track should get you amped up like watching 8 Mile. I wanna go out there and like, chop a whole forest down or run up some Rocky stairs when “Danny LaRu” comes on…it’s big, bold, authoritative…this track has boots on that could stomp out your village. Smart mix of background layers working magic on this cut too if you’re listening close.
The synthesized sound of the intense rhythm in “Lo-Key Lo-FI” really seems to have sparked the energy in Carter once again…and sparked up the contents of the bowl he’s smokin’ at the same time. Using versatility to his advantage once again, Jimmy brings a robotic tone to the rhythm of the opening verse before busting out into untamed bars as the track moves on. “Lo-Key Lo-FI” is one of the shorter cuts on the album overall but it’s certainly not short on personality – for just over two-minutes in length, this track really gets moving and packs in maximum entertainment. Working the mic stylistically with swag in his tone; he can snap from crisp & clear delivery to sly & sleazy like, Mickey Avalon-esque hazy flows, and all at the slightest transition or provocation from the music; even on a short cut like “Lo-Key Lo-FI,” Carter finds a way to demonstrate multiple facets of his skillset within a smaller timeframe. Solid cut to keep the album flowing strongly overall though – “Lo-Key Lo-FI” brings a fresh sound to the mid-section of the record that works the old-school vibe perfectly into a modern-day style with plenty of new ideas.
“How often do you shave your nuts?” is a question put forth on “WU.Gracias” as Jimmy continues on. I feel like it warrants an answer from someone out there, so I’ll give him mine: not as much as I’d like to homie. If this emcee thinks he’s really a ‘lazy ma’fucker’ then the giant shrubbery I’m usually growing around my Johnson suggests he’s probably still got a lot of work to go still before he’s as lazy as I am, just sayin.’ Man. My junk is terrible. Okay, moving on… You gotta hand it to Jimmy for bringing a real respect to the old-school in his flow like he does on “WU.Gracias” in a way that’s completely relevant for right here & now. It’s minimalist again for sure, but there’s just enough melody in the music and smart percussion at work in the beat of “WU.Gracias” that it gives Carter the perfect opportunities to spring-off, pivot, and shift his words & flow to really make an impressive impact. Brilliant mix of insightful lyricism infused with sharp humor that pulls no punches – a signature aspect of Jimmy Carter’s style and again, another clever nod to the roots of hip-hop and the intelligent mix of humor it can deliver line after line. Really rad stuff happening on the mic here as Jimmy waxes poetically on life & love and what makes us all tick when it comes to relationships, while still keeping us grinnin’ from smart lyricism and a flawless flow that continues to rip at full speed, bringing the rhythm with him from bar-to-bar. He’s damn near grabbed a Nine Inch Nails style beat to work with on “WU.Gracias” – it’s badass to listen to as it starts and then shifts into the raddest groove to fuel the verses as Jimmy works his lyrical magic.
LISTEN to this guy though will ya? Cause like, C’MON people – what else do you WANT other than an emcee this verbally flexible and continually innovative? “Earth Full Of Comedians Too Dick To Do Stand-Up” not only puts the incredible rhythm & flow of Jimmy right into the spotlight, but LISTEN to the way he changes up everything in the tone on the m-i-c to fit this song even more thematically. I know, I know, sounds nerdy in a written description right? Not much I can do about that. Facts are facts – it’s attention to details like these that make concepts work in-full and not come out half-assed. As loose as any vibe or as wild as any idea that Jimmy might put out there can be – make no mistake, he’s ALWAYS in full control…you just can’t mistake the masterful grip he’s got on the mic, straight-up. So the like, robotic or otherworldly vibe he’s using in his delivery here…it’s noticeable, it makes the impact the effort deserves, & the end result is that the entire concept comes together because of choices like this. And for real – someone out there try to tell me that “Earth Full Of Comedians Too Dick To Do Stand-Up” shouldn’t be a single! Mainstream radio should be forced to say this title out loud right before they bump the track on their stations even louder – because this track is undeniably hot shit. I love that Jimmy has been a champion of vocabulary throughout this whole record and really brought his A-game to the lyricism; he keeps it complex, flashy, and rhythmic through smart choices of words, and strings them together as perfectly as the realest of the real in the Hip-Hop genre. Seriously impressed with the talent in this emcee from the quality of his writing to the execution on the m-i-c – and even when he dips into humor & jokes or not, that level of commitment, focus, and pure skill is on display at all times. And yes…even on a track called “Earth Full Of Comedians Too Dick To Do Stand-Up” you can hear that Jimmy Carter is serious & slays microphones and sixteens wherever there’s an opportunity to do so. Really smart placement on the backing vocals punch the lyrics with additional emphasis when its needed, and the flow from Carter on the mic of this particular track is an exceptional highlight on Jimmy.
Semi-related note, I’ve never been interested in James Bond and I’ve only actually seen Casino Royale. I was told by general consensus that this was the most likely to be the one I’d like and I was bored as fuck. But I hate action movies 85% of the time…I don’t know how any real writer out there could feel otherwise; why write amazing words or concepts when it’s the explosions, car chases, and Sharknados that end up stealing the show anyway, you feel me? So I cracked a smile when “James Bond Was Too Emotional & Never Had A Plan B” came on…because damn homies, that’s just a brilliant title ain’t it? And ACCURATE – that’s what I’m sayin’ – I’ll defend Jimmy’s statement here; even though we’re likely in the minority compared to the legions of butthurt Bond fans crying otherwise, I think he’s CORRECT. Anyhow…he’s certainly rappin’ about a lot more than just James Bond here – and the confidence and resounding commitment he puts into his delivery will have you paying attention for real – Jimmy is commanding the mic here without question. Carter’s almost working beat poetry here…as wild as this emcee can get, he really does bring art to the game in many ways…as to whether or not he’ll want to admit that or not, who knows…but that’s the reality, the man is a verifiable artist & genuine wordsmith. Tracks like “James Bond Was Too Emotional & Never Had A Plan B” might not be as loaded with straight-ahead hooks as some of the other cuts on this album are – but it just depends on what you’re looking for in the Hip-Hop you listen to; if you’re one of those people like me that digs on the lyrical aspect, then there’s more in this one song for you to listen to than there is in most full records out there.
“Everybody Tryna Be Everybody” is a genius cut to end the record with…it displays pretty much every aspect of what’s made this record great to listen to all along and this emcee stand out from the rest. The amount of versatility on the mic is always wicked to listen to – Jimmy can transition from style to style with a different approach or flow, character or tone, in his rhymes while still meticulously hitting the bars with precision and the passion it takes to make an impression on listening ears. Whether he’s being serious or he’s been telling jokes from track to track is almost beyond the point – his head & heart are clearly in the game here – you can tell that from the quality of the music, words, and overall results. Ultimately, it’s a statement about what’s out there right now musically and pretty much pointing out directly what makes Carter different than the rest – “Everybody Tryna Be Everybody” – but he ain’t. Jimmy’s taken his own route throughout every twist, turn, and direction of this record – and like I was sayin’ earlier, he never takes his hands off the wheel and keeps his game sharp & fresh as the ideas are. He’s packed in knowledge, jokes, skills, insight…dude’s pretty much qualifying for the verbal Olympics on Jimmy…”Everybody Tryna Be Everybody” is a perfect example of just how adaptable this emcee can be and gives you a full dose of his ability to morph his style to what the music or concept require to make the entire track come alive. And he’s done it time & time again through Jimmy – this record is wicked.
Find out more about Jimmy Carter from his official website at: https://unconsciousprophets.world
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